BBC World Service to get more funds every year

LONDON:The radio arm of the BBC has just received a shot in the arm from the British government. The BBC World Service, which commands a listenership of 150 million every week all over the globe, will gain an average annual increase of 3.4 per cent in real terms over the next three years as part of the government's Spending Review for 2003-2006. 

The new investment represents an extra 48 million spread over the three years, in addition to a strong, stable capital baseline, says an official release. The money will be used to:

# Consolidate recent extensions in BBC services following the events of 11 September and launch new programmes serving Afghanistan, South West Asia and the Arab World.

# Develop landmark radio programmes on global issues such as global security; Islam in the 21st century, and development and democracy. 

# Develop new flagship programming serving Africa, China and Europe. 

# Strengthen online capability through more depth in key language sites and increased interactivity. 

# Expand World Service availability on FM, particularly in capital cities. 

# Support the World Service's important capital modernisation programme. 

The BBC World Service gains an additional 8 million, 13 million and 27 million respectively in each of the three years. The settlement goes hand-in-hand with a rigorous programme of efficiency over the period. BBC World Service is funded through grant-in-aid from Britain's Foreign Office. The grant-in-aid currently stands at 201 million and will increase by 38 million to 239 million by 2005/6, including the additional 11 million for 2003/4 announced in the 2000 spending review. 

The BBC World Service broadcasts in 43 languages including English, Hindi, Arabic, French, Tamil. Outside the UK, BBC World Service is available on short wave; on FM in more than 129 capital cities; and selected programmes are carried on almost 2,000 FM and MW radio stations around the world. 

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