THE BBC is making major cuts to a flagship news programme as it faces a “tough financial situation”.

The broadcaster has announced Newsnight will now be cut down to a 30-minute late-night “news-making debate, discussion and interview programme”.

The new programme will also no longer have a dedicated reporting team.

However it said there would be a new BBC News investigations unit created, and an expansion of BBC Verify.

Other changes include an extended hour-long edition of the BBC News at One which will relocate to Salford, while BBC Breakfast will be extended for an extra 15 minutes daily.

READ MORE: Kirsty Wark to step down from presenting BBC Newsnight

The plans have been unveiled as part of the corporation’s wider plans to make £500 million of savings.

While the long-running nightly current affairs show on BBC Two will continue to air on weeknights, more than half of Newsnight’s 60 jobs will go.

The announcement was criticised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), who said together with funding cuts to Panorama, the broadcaster's news content and coverage "risks being downgraded".

Paul Siegert, NUJ broadcasting organiser, said: “While we welcome investment in digital, we have grave concerns that the axe is falling disproportionately on investigatory news output.

"Flagship programmes such as Newsnight and Panorama have a long history of setting the news agenda with in-depth investigations and exclusive stories.

“The proposals would, on the face of it, diminish a part of the BBC’s output that has already been negatively impacted by previous rounds of cuts.

"The extension of BBC Breakfast and News at One would not provide an equivalent in-depth analytical and agenda-setting news product.”

The National:

Meanwhile Mark Urban, Newsnight's Diplomatic Editor wrote on Twitter/X: "The honour of presenting @BBCNewsnight falls to me tonight.

"I have worked on the programme for 32 years, around the world, risking my life many times for its journalism. You can well imagine my feelings at cuts to our staff and budget of more than 50%."

Last month it was announced that Kirsty Wark would be stepping down as the lead presenter of Newsnight after the next election, having presented the programme for three decades.

It was also reported that the show’s editor, Stewart Maclean, had announced he was leaving Newsnight to take a role with the BBC in Africa, with various outlets citing an email he is reported to have sent to his colleagues apologising for “signalling my departure at a time of such instability”.

Following the announcement, BBC news and current affairs chief executive Deborah Turness said: “Like many businesses, we are in a tough financial climate and as our audiences shift rapidly from TV to online news consumption, we need to make choices about where we allocate our resources.

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“While TV and radio remain crucial to BBC News, we must invest in our digital platforms to ensure they are also the home of our very best journalism, and today’s package of measures will accelerate this transformation.”

Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, who joined the BBC in 2001 and had presented Newsnight from 2006, left the corporation in February 2022 for rival media group Global, and now hosts its The News Agents podcast with former BBC colleagues Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall.

During Maitlis’s tenure at Newsnight, she famously interviewed the Duke of York in November 2019 when he was grilled over his relationship with the late billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Following the Newsnight broadcast and the furore over Andrew’s friendship with Epstein, the duke stepped down from public life.

In 2020 the BBC ruled that a monologue Maitlis had delivered on Newsnight, about the row over Dominic Cummings’s trip to Barnard Castle during the pandemic, breached impartiality rules.

The broadcaster received more than 20,000 complaints and said in a statement: “We believe the introduction we broadcast did not meet our standards of due impartiality.”