Wednesday, 22 June 2011

BBC World Service to get extra funding from Foreign Office in response to Arab uprisings

The Foreign Office is to provide additional funding for the BBC World Service, Foreign Secretary William Hague said today in a written statement.

Hague said: "In line with the Government’s response to events in the Middle East and North Africa and following the debate on 19 May, the FCO will provide some additional funding for the BBC World Service beyond that provided for in the 2010 Spending Review."

He added: "We recognise that the world has changed since the settlement was announced in October last year - indeed since the World Service announced the subsequent changes to services, including some closures, on 26 January.

"In the debate on 19 May, a number of Members of Parliament highlighted the impact of the reduction in World Service funding on the BBC Arabic Service. It is right that we should look at ways in which we can assist the BBC Arabic Service to continue their valuable work in the region. So I have agreed that we will provide additional funding of £2.2m per annum to enable the World Service to maintain the current level of investment in the BBC Arabic Service. This will increase the World Service’s funding as a proportion of the FCO’s budget to just over 14.5%.

"In addition the FCO is discussing providing funding from the Arab Partnership Initiative for specific projects proposed by the BBC Arabic Service or World Service Trust. Discussions are continuing about a number of projects which are designed to support the development of the media and wider civic society in the Middle East and North Africa region which taken together may mean an additional investment of up to £1.65m over the next two years."

Hague said: "I have discussed this overall approach with the Chairman of the BBC Trust and we have agreed that we will continue to work together to ensure that the World Service retains its global influence and reach in a rapidly changing world."

  • Pic: NUJ 'Save the World Service' demo outside Bush House (Jon Slattery)

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