BBC World Service Boss Quits – Read Her Full Internal Memo

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Lillian Landor quit as senior controller of BBC News International Services and BBC World Service director this week. She will depart in July.

A message from me

As you have heard from Deborah, today I’m announcing my decision to step back from my role in BBC News.

Serving as Director of the 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.

There is never a good time to announce one’s departure.

Especially now, a moment of urgency that demands of us an unwavering commitment to our own integrity and that of our journalism, a moment when maintaining this integrity in the face of the most contested stories is even more vital. This is a critical juncture where the independence and courage of our voice truly matter, when the language we use and the stories we tell must boldly speak truth to power.

More than any other global news organisation we are trusted for our journalism, our fiercely impartial voice and our deep understanding of the audiences we serve.

We stand as a unique reference point and a reassuring space of free and open debate just as these values become increasingly rare, persistently challenged and therefore even more vital.

The pressures facing the BBC as a whole and the WS in particular are immense.

The organisation is operating in a tight and ever restrictive financial environment and 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.

We in the WS made decisions to stop programmes and close platforms that were valued by our audiences. But what makes me proud is our refusal to let reduced funding stifle us.

Instead, we have transformed, restructured and innovated, driven by a clear vision for a digital future that we are actively working to implement.

In every corner of the WS, we have constantly delivered exceptional journalism – robust, courageous and creative. Our frontline reporting, analysis, investigations and meticulous work to hold power to account and counter disinformation have been distinctive and brave. I am incredibly proud of that.

None of this would have been possible without the dedicated honest work carried out by you all – journalists and support staff across all our services, harnessed to their unwavering commitment to delivering journalism with integrity.

Navigating new material and financial realities amidst the surge in disinformation and declining media freedoms presents significant challenges. The right to free expression is increasingly under scrutiny worldwide.

This is a complex environment for a global news operation such as ours. The competition has become tougher with state-funded bodies and other players significantly increasing their financial investment.

I remain deeply concerned about the operational capability of the World Service if additional cuts continue to weaken it further.

The essence of the World Service in English and 42 languages needs to be protected. It 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.

We have the unique advantage in having our journalists drawn from 42 different language groups, enriching and augmenting our domestic news operation, to the benefit of the BBC and the licence fee payer. This advantage is a great competitive strength that no other international news organisation possesses. Let us ensure we preserve it.

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

It has been a huge privilege and honour to serve as its Director.

I will be leaving in July – the next few months will be busy as we continue to deliver on our editorial plans with the news agenda as it is.


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