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BBC World Service chief resigns amid ‘deep concern’ about broadcaster’s future

Liliane Landor
Liliane Landor was previously head of foreign news at Channel 4, but spent the majority of her career at the BBC

The head of the BBC World Service has quit as she cited “deep concerns” about the broadcaster’s future amid sweeping cuts.

Liliane Landor, senior controller of BBC News International Services and BBC World Service director, said she will step down in July after three years in the role.

In a note to staff, Ms Landor said she was “deeply concerned about the operational capability of the World Service if additional cuts continue to weaken it further”.

The BBC announced major cuts to the World Service in 2022 that has led to hundreds of job losses and the closure of foreign language radio services including BBC Arabic and BBC Persian.

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Ms Landor warned of “immense” pressures facing the World Service and the BBC more broadly.

She wrote: “The organisation is operating in a tight and ever restrictive financial environment and over the past two years we have faced tough choices resulting in cuts which have incrementally impacted our global reach and the breadth of our services.”

While the executive praised journalists for adapting to the cutbacks, she warned that the World Service’s output in English and 42 languages needed to be protected.

Ms Landor added: “It must be able to retain its distinctive universal voice regardless of how deeply it integrates into the wider BBC News framework.

“And it needs to continue to be a genuine international public service capable of reaching people and parts of the world in need of trusted news and information.”

Ms Landor was previously head of foreign news at Channel 4, but has spent the majority of her career at the BBC after beginning at the French Service.

Deborah Turness, chief executive of BBC News, said: “In a polarised world where truth is under attack, Liliane has led our BBC World Service teams with real courage.

“She has been a global ambassador for our powerful and important journalism, and has worked with great skill to modernise World Service output to reach digital audiences. Liliane is a person of great integrity and I will miss her wisdom very much.”

The comments have sparked fears of further cuts, with one BBC manager describing the situation as “really grim”.

A BBC spokesman said there were no specific plans for further cuts but said cost savings were an “ongoing situation” at the public service broadcaster.

The BBC has already announced cuts to services including Newsnight as part of a wider effort to plug a £500m black hole in its finances following a two-year freeze to the licence fee.

Director general Tim Davie last month said the corporation was now trying to find a further £200m in savings as he announced plans to overhaul its digital services.

The BBC is also racing to prepare for a future without the licence fee after the Government launched a review into its future funding model.