BBC World Service receives ?70 million fund increase

MUMBAI: BBC World Service will receive a ?70 million funding increase from the UK government for the three-year period from 2008-2009 to 2010-2011.

The announcement was made by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling during his Comprehensive Spending Review announcement in Parliament.

The announcement formally confirmed ?15 million per annum funding for a BBC news and information television channel in the Farsi (Persian) language for Iran which will be launched next year.

The go-ahead for the service was announced in October 2006 by then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. BBC World Service also received funding to enhance its forthcoming Arabic language television news and information channel.

The services in Arabic and Farsi will be the first television news services to be launched by the BBC in a decade. They will be the first television services to be publicly-funded by Grant-in-aid from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The new BBC Arabic Television Service is due to launch around the turn of the year, initially as a 12-hour a day news and information service, at a cost of ?19 million per annum.

This initial service was funded through reprioritisation of the BBC World Service‘s language portfolio and self-help efficiencies. The extra funding announced means the new channel would be able to broadcast 24 hours a day from an appropriate point during the next financial year. A full year‘s operational cost of the additional 12 hours of television broadcasting in Arabic will be an extra ?6m per annum.

The overall settlement also includes ?1m per annum from 2009-10 to enhance BBC World Service‘s multi-media operations in languages relevant to ethnic communities resident in the UK. In common with other public organisations, BBC World Service plans to meet its rising costs from within its existing budget through a vigorous programme of efficiency savings.

BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman said, "As we mark the 75th birthday of the BBC‘s service to the world this December, this settlement strengthens BBC World Service‘s future as a multi-media provider of high quality independent and impartial news and information around the world.

"It specifically means that audiences in the Middle East and Iran will have multi-media access – through television, radio, and online – to trusted journalism of the highest standing and increased opportunity for dialogue and debate. We believe this will be a popular and valuable asset for audiences in this troubled region.

"This is a good settlement for BBC World Service. We are grateful for the support we have received from our stakeholders in Parliament and across Whitehall in these discussions and, in particular, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Treasury."

The new investment means that BBC World Service‘s overall funding level would rise from ?246m in 2007-8 to ?271m by 2010-11. BBC World Service would receive an extra ?19m in 2008-9; ?26m in 2009-10; and ?25m in 2010-11.

In common with other public organisations and the domestic BBC, BBC World Service plans to meet its rising costs from within its existing budget through a vigorous programme of efficiency savings.

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