The BBC, which will celebrate its centenary next month, said its international services were to make savings of £28.5m ($31m) as part of wider cuts of £500m, which the unions have blamed the British government.
Almost 400 BBC World Service staff will lose their jobs under the plan.
In July, the broadcaster detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its UK national equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.
BBC World Service – one of the UK’s most recognizable global brands – currently operates in 41 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.
But the company said audience habits were changing and more and more people were accessing information online, which, combined with the BBC’s funding freeze and rising operating costs, meant that the going “digital first” made financial sense.
“Today’s proposals involve a net total of approximately 382 job closures,” the public service broadcaster said in an online statement.
Eleven language services – Azerbaijani, Brazilian, Marathi, Mundo, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Sinhalese, Thai, Turkish and Vietnamese – are already digital-only.
Under the restructuring plans, they will be joined by seven others: Chinese, Gujarati, Igbo, Indonesian, Pidgin, Urdu and Yoruba.
Radio services in Arabic, Persian, Kyrgyz, Hindi, Bengali, Chinese, Indonesian, Tamil and Urdu will stop if the proposals are approved by staff and unions No language services will be closed, the broadcaster insisted, although some productions leave London and times would be changed.
Thai service will move to Bangkok, Korean service to Seoul and Bangla service to Dhaka.
The TV bulletin “Focus on Africa” will be broadcast from Nairobi, he added.
BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for the expansion of digital services as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.
“The way audiences access information and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality and trusted journalism is growing,” she added.
The government criticized
The head of the Bectu broadcasting union, Philippa Childs, said she was disappointed with the proposed changes.
“While we recognize that the BBC must adapt to meet the challenges of a changing media landscape, it is once again workers who are affected by the government’s ill-judged policy decisions,” she said. .
The government’s freeze on licensing fees that pay for the BBC World Service has created a funding crunch and the need for cuts, she added.
Bectu will push for staff to be redeployed where possible and to ensure they “mitigate the needs of any mandatory layoffs”, Childs said.
BBC World Service is funded by UK license fees – currently £159 for a color TV and payable by every household with a TV.
The BBC has faced repeated claims from the right since the referendum that split the UK over Brexit in 2016, of political bias and promoting a ‘woke’ liberal agenda, centered on London .
But he faced similar charges of political bias in favor of the right over the left.
The government announced a licensing fee freeze in January, in what was seen by critics as a bid to save then Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s job.
At the time, Johnson was facing mounting allegations of wrongdoing in office, which eventually forced him to resign.
Ministers said the funding model needed to be revised due to technological changes, including the adoption of streaming services, as well as the rising cost of living.
Opposition parties, however, said the monthly payments – equivalent to around £13.13 – were a small change from energy bill increases totaling thousands of pounds a year.
Then Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, a Johnson loyalist, had previously accused the BBC of “tokenism” in diversity hiring and elitist “groupthink”, but denied wanting to dismantle the company.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online