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Departing BBC World Service head voices ‘deep concerns’ over cuts at broadcaster

Liliane Landor, senior controller of BBC News International Services and BBC World Service director, is departing her role later this year amid “deep concerns” about sweeping cuts at the UK public broadcaster.

Liliane Landor

The Lebanese-born British journalist and broadcasting executive has been director of the BBC World Service since 2021.

Headquartered in London, it broadcasts news in more than 40 languages around the globe.

Landor has worked at the BBC in various positions since she joined in 1989. However, she will now step down in July after expressing worries about the corporation’s future.

In a note to staff, 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 severe cuts to the World Service in 2022 which resulted in hundreds of layoffs, as well as the closure of radio services including BBC Arabic and BBC Persian.

Landor said: “The organisation is operating in a tight and ever restrictive financial environment.

“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.

“(The World Service) 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.”

The BBC has previously announced cuts to services including its popular Newsnight show as part of a cost-saving strategy to help offset a £500m black hole in its finances following a two-year freeze to the licence fee.

Last month, director general Tim Davie admitted that the corporation must find a further £200m in savings while overhauling its digital services.

Landor is a former head of foreign news at the UK’s Channel 4.

She began her career at the BBC at the French Service, then went on to manage, present, and edit key areas of the BBC World Service, including a role as head of News and Current Affairs in English.

Landor then became controller of languages, where she was responsible for all non-English language services on radio, TV and online.

Her BBC colleagues today paid tribute to her accomplishments.

Tim Davie said: “The whole of the BBC owes Liliane a huge debt of gratitude.

“She is an exceptional journalist and editor. The BBC World Service is one of the jewels in the BBC’s crown and has flourished under her leadership.

“I’m extremely sorry Liliane has decided to leave us and wish her the very best for the future.”

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

Landor said: “Serving as director of the BBC World Service has been an immense privilege.

“To have been entrusted with leading a global service relied upon by hundreds of millions worldwide is humbling and the greatest honour of my professional life.

“With media freedom under threat, the World Service is a force for good and the BBC needs to look after it.”

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