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BBC in Tunbridge Wells faces job threat as part of shake-up

Jobs at the BBC's Kent studios are at risk after the corporation confirmed a major cut to its regional TV news, current affairs, local radio and online news output nationwide.

And it has been confirmed the replacement to weekly magazine programme Inside Out - which is being axed - will no longer be made at the BBC's local base in Tunbridge Wells.

South East Today will continue - but Inside Out has been axed
South East Today will continue - but Inside Out has been axed

Some 450 jobs will be cut across England as a consequence, while a third of regional new presenters also face the axe.

All presenters of the regional TV shows - which include the evening South East Today news programme presented by Rob Smith and Natalie Graham - are involved in the consultation process.

The aim is to reduce presenters of each show to just one.

Inside Out, will be replaced with a single 30-minute investigation per episode produced by six studios - Tunbridge Wells no longer being used.

Local BBC radio stations, which include Radio Kent, will also continue with the schedule introduced for the lockdown made permanent.

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Caption: The Top Choir Kent logo and BBC presenter Rob Smith who will compere the final of Top Choir Kent in Canterbury
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Any shows co-hosted will go down to just one presenter and there will be just three daytime shows.

Helen Thomas, the director of BBC England, said the corporation's local and regional services were created more than 50 years ago, and "have changed very little and need significant reinvention".

She said: "That has meant taking some difficult decisions.

"We are in the age of the Facebook community group and the WhatsApp neighbourhood chat. We must adapt to better reflect how people live their lives, how they get their news and what content they want.

"We're going to modernise our offer to audiences in England by making digital a central part of everything we do. We'll take forward lessons from Covid-19 that will make us more agile and more in touch with communities while also ensuring we're as efficient as we can be.

The studios at Tunbridge Wells could see cuts
The studios at Tunbridge Wells could see cuts

"I'm confident we can evolve our local and regional services while improving our impact and better serving our audiences."

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said: “These are huge cuts which will inevitably have an impact on the BBC’s ability to sustain the breadth and depth of news coverage throughout England which truly reflects the diversity of the nation. We are consulting our members on how these plans will impact on the BBC’s output and the extent to which it will increase workloads on already-stretched newsrooms."

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