The BBC World Service is one of those institutions you expect to outlive us all. But plans to axe 650 jobs has rocked the organisation, in a Government cost-saving plan that will see the closure of five of its overseas services.

After cuts to the World Service's Grant-in-Aid funding from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the World Service’s broadcasts in Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, the Portuguese outputs for Africa, and an English-language service for the Caribbean, are all set for the chop.

The cuts are rooted in a 16% savings target set at a Government spending review, which aims to save £46m a year by 2014.

The Beeb’s global news director Peter Horrocks said cuts was necessary due to th saving targets.

He said: ‘We need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact.’

But trade unions are angry at the cuts, which follow a recent announcement that the BBC is to slash its online budget, causing 360 redundancies.

Jeremy Dear, of the National Union of Journalists, said: ‘These ferocious cuts to a valued national service are ultimately the responsibility of the coalition Government, whose policies are destroying quality public services in the UK.

‘These cuts are a direct result of the Government slashing funding to an internationally respected and successful broadcaster.

‘By cutting the service, the Government will cut British influence in the rest of the world, and cuts will also be deeply damaging for objective quality news services around the globe.’

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