The BBC has announced that extensive job cuts at the World Service have become necessary because of the Government’s cuts.

Writing in The Telegraph the BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson, said that job losses “will inevitably have a significant impact on the audiences who use and rely upon the relevant services, as well as on those of our colleagues who work on them”.

Thompson said that the cuts were not related to the licence fee settlement, but because the grant-in-aid from the Foreign Office on which the World Service is funded is itself being cut.

The National Union of Journalist’s general secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: “World Service journalists have sought the support of senior parliamentarians in resisting these short sighted cuts and the NUJ will support their fight to defend jobs and quality services.”

The BBC estimates that 650 employees from the service’s 2,400 global staff will lose their jobs in order to make a saving of £46million a year.

The cuts will mean the closure of the service’s Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian languages services as well as English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for Africa.

The World Service is the world’s largest international broadcaster. It began as the Empire Service in 1932. Weekly audiences stand at around 188 million people.

More details of the redundancies are expected to be announced today.