The BBC Trust has welcomed the Foreign Secretary’s announcement that an additional £2.2m per year will be provided to the BBC World Service over the next three years.
Separately, the BBC Trust has approved the reallocation of £9m of existing World Service funding to editorial investment over three years, to mitigate the impact of recent funding cuts, following lower-than-expected restructuring costs and pension contributions.
Together, this additional funding will help provide support to some priority frontline services, including sustaining the Hindi short wave service, the Somali service and services for the Arab world. It will also allow a small amount of investment in new activities, in particular on new platforms and in emerging markets.
The BBC is currently working on the detail of how this funding will be allocated.
Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust said: “As Aung San Suu Kyi said only this week, the World Service is a lifeline for those hungry for unbiased news and information about their country and the wider world. It is also an export for British values of fairness, accuracy and impartiality. I am delighted that we have been able to work with the Foreign Secretary to direct some more funding to these services. The additional money will help protect BBC services in the areas where they are most valued and needed.
“However, it does not mean that we will be able to restore all of what has been lost, and there will still need to be some cuts to the World Service as we have known it. We are determined that when we take full responsibility for funding of the World Service after 2014, it will have the priority it deserves.”
In the Government’s Spending Review in October 2010, the World Service’s Grant in Aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was reduced by 16 per cent. Taking account of the additional funding announced today, the BBC will still need to reduce spend on the World Service by £42m per annum by 2013/14 (compared with 2010/11).
The BBC World Service will be funded from the licence fee from 1 April 2014.