Kenyan Journalists Targeted in Mass Firing at International Media House

  • A notice warning employees of looming structural changes, including retrenchment of approximately 450 employees, was issued to BBC staff

    The Tuesday, November 26, 2019 document stated that the changes would affect both BBC headquarters in London and its regional bureau in Kenya.

    This is part of the international media's global cost-reduction plan as it seeks to complete its £80 million (approximately Ksh10 billion) savings target by 2022.

    BBC Studios in the UK

    A well-placed insider clarified reports that of the 450 targeted layoffs, only about 50 would be affected in Kenya. 

    "The notice that over 450 employees in Kenya will be fired is not true. Only 50 may be affected. More changes are expected in the coming days," a source informed Kenyans.co.ke.

    The document issued by Racheal Akidi, head of East Africa languages at BBC World, urged all departments to work towards saving as the media house which is battling financial constraints.

    “The purpose of this letter is to formally notify you of our intention to terminate members of our staff on account of redundancy. Three posts in the BBC Somali Service and one post in BBC Swahili Service will be closed,” the letter reads.

    A consultative meeting was held between the management and Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) which represents the staff on Monday, January 13, to deliberate on the changes.

    "We wish to assure you that the BBC will follow a fair and transparent ‘selection for retention’ process, taking into account the provisions of Section 40 (1) (a) of the Employment Act 2007 for termination on account of redundancy and the collective bargaining agreement signed between the BBC and the local trade union," the notice stated.

    Media houses have also been transforming to adapt to the new trends in the field. Digital content production has forced several houses to make structural changes, with an eye towards growth and modernity.

    For BBC, it also targets a reduction in radio output as part of the digital transformation. The BBC News website will also face an uplift as the corporation prepares to launch a new version of the BBC News app.

    On Wednesday, January 29, director of BBC News Fran Unsworth stated that the company had to move away from traditional broadcasting towards digital.

    "We need to reshape BBC News for the next decade in a way which saves substantial amounts of money. We are spending too much of our resources on traditional linear broadcasting and not enough on digital," Unsworth noted.

    In Britain, BBC's two Victoria Derbyshire programmes, Victoria Derbyshire and World Update will be closed. 

    BBC News currently employs around 6,000 people, including 1,700 outside the UK. 

    The BBC newsroom in New Broadcasting House, London (Photo/Courtesy)