BBC World Service has announced is to close its Romanian language service. The news and current affairs service is proposing to cease broadcasting on August 1 2008 after 68 years of broadcasting.BBC Romanian broadcasts for almost four hours a day on radio and also runs a complementary website.
“Like the other European services we closed three years ago, BBC Romanian had its roots in the Second World War.It has served its audiences with distinction through the Communist era to the present day. The contribution of all BBC Romanian staff has been immense: serving Romanians with innovation and commitment for 68 years. The quality of the current output is of the highest standard. But Europe has changed, fundamentally, since the early nineties; and with the rapidly declining audiences in Romania we can no longer justify continuing the service. It is widely acknowledged that BBC Romanian’s presence has contributed to the building of freedoms now enjoyed by Romania’s citizens. We believe this will be a lasting legacy ,” BBC World Service Director , Nigel Chapman said.
It is the last of the BBC’s non-English language services specifically aimed at countries that are EU member states. The change follows a review of BBC World Service’s language service portfolio after its overall funding levels, for the three-year funding period between 2008/09 and 2010/11, were agreed with the UK Government in October 2007.
This will be BBC World Service’s only language service closure during this current funding period. This decision, which has been endorsed by the BBC Trust and the FCO, comes after consideration of audience need to continue broadcasts, the changing media landscape in Romania and the declining impact of the service.
The changes are also made within the context of the very tight financial framework in which BBC World Service operates. BBC World Service’s funding settlement gave increased resources for new projects, such as television services for BBC Arabic and BBC Persian.But it also imposed a tough savings target of around 3 per cent per annum to meet rising costs of existing services.
Over the past decade, BBC World Service has made continuing efficiency savings of, on average, 2.7 per cent annually which accumulates to £46 million pounds.The scale of the competition in radio and all media has intensified since Romania acceded to the EU in 2007.
In addition, mergers have meant that several major FM network partner stations which previously carried BBC Romanian output no longer do so. These FM partnerships are critical in a country where direct listening to the BBC via shortwave is neither popular nor cost-effective. This has led to a significant drop in audience (currently under 3% of the local radio market in Romania), which could not be countered by the presence of the BBC’s limited number of FM relays.
Broadcasts in Romanian for the Republic of Moldova will also cease, as the Moldovan side of the operation cannot be sustained without the infrastructure of BBC Romanian.Romania will continue to be served by other BBC Global News services in English, such as BBC World Service radio, BBC World News television, and online through bbc.com/news.
The BBC’s five local FM relays (four in Romania and one in the Republic of Moldova), which currently broadcast a mixture of Romanian and English programmes, will broadcast English programmes exclusively (plus Russian and Ukrainian in Moldova), subject to agreement with local regulators. The closure will affect 46 staff (30 in Bucharest in Romania; four in Chisinau in Moldova and 12 in London) and will save £1.3 million per annum.
“This was a tough decision but one that is right to ensure BBC World Service continues to put its limited resources where it is most needed.I know that BBC Romanian is full of talented broadcasters and we will do all we can to ensure that the staff in it are treated fairly and sensitively in terms of financial compensation both in and outside the UK. We will strongly support their efforts to find alternative employment ,” Nigel Chapman said.
This change has been approved by the BBC Trust.The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, David Miliband, has also given his approval as he is required to do under the terms of the BBC’s Charter and BBC World Service’s agreement with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The BBC Romanian Service was started on 15 September 1939.BBC World Service’s grant-in-aid funding for 2008/9 from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office is £265m. The BBC World Service has 33 language services including English. The other languages are: Albanian, Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Burmese, Caribbean-English, Cantonese, French for Africa , Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese for Brazil, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese.