The BBC is to close all its regional bureaus in India in August. The regional correspondents will have to move to Delhi or lose their jobs. Senior journalists, who have worked for more than a decade for the corporation, will have their posts terminated with compensation terms well below BBC policy. Four members of staff will be made redundant.
The bureau closures have also raised the questions about the wisdom of covering a country the size of India from Delhi. The service in India is linked to the BBC World Service. The corporation set up BBC World Service India Private Limited as a local subsidiary company. This is similar to the situation in Pakistan and other countries.
In a letter to Tony Hall, the BBC's director general, Ram Dutt Tripathi, the Lucknow correspondent, Mohammed Omer Farooq, the Hyderabad correspondent and Manikant Thakur, the Patna correspondent, asked why they are not entitled to the same redundancy terms as other BBC staff. They said:"Are we not BBC staff? Why are we being treated differently? Why are we being discriminated against?"
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "The NUJ supports our BBC colleagues in India with their demands for an immediate halt to the entire process of closure of positions of regional correspondents of the BBC in India and urges the management to hold proper discussions to ensure a just and fair treatment with these senior journalists in accordance with the BBC's policies."
The Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ) has passed a motion supporting the journalists. "The IFJW has deplored and strongly condemned the reported move of the BBC to abruptly close down all its bureaus in India from August 23, 2013….The IFWJ has also called on the government of India to immediately intervene in the matter and ask the BBC management to strictly abide by the relevant laws of the land to protect the interests of the other journalists who have been working with it for quite long periods."