Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum from the BBC World Service


  The BBC World Service 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 2003-06, it was announced in Parliament today (Monday, 15 July).

  The new investment represents an extra £48 million spread over the three years, in addition to a strong, stable capital baseline.

  The money will be used to:

    —  consolidate recent extensions in BBC services following the events of September 11 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; and

    —  support the World Service's important capital modernisation programme.

  BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies welcomed today's announcement: "We feel the Government has justifiably recognised the importance and impact of the World Service by providing substantial new investment."

  The Director of the BBC World Service, Mark Byford said: "The settlement is a strong endorsement of the BBC World Service at a time when the global appetite for international news and analysis has increased. It is recognition that the need for our values, of impartial, authoritative and editorially independent journalism, is greater than ever.

  "The investment comes on the back of a year of oustanding achievement for the World Service in which we extended key services and won numerous prestigious awards in response to September 11 and the war in Afghanistan," he says. "This is a significant settlement for the World Service, representing real terms growth."

  The BBC World Service gains an additional £8 million, £13 million, £27 million respectively in each of the three years. The settlement goes hand-in-hand with a rigorous programme of efficiency over the period.

Editor's notes

    —  BBC World Service is funded through grant-in-aid from the Foreign Office.

    —  The grant-in-aid currently stands at £201 million and will increase by £38 million to £239 million by 2005-06, including the additional £11 million for 2003-04 announced in the 2000 spending review.

    —  At least 150 million people around the world listen to BBC World Service every week. It remains the world's best known and most listened to international radio broadcaster.

    —  The BBC World Service broadcasts in 43 languages including English. The other languages are: Albanian, Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Brazilian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, French, Greek, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Kazakh, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovak, Slovene, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek and Vietnamese.

    —  In the UK, World Service in English is available on 648 MW in south eastern England. In addition, overnight on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Ulster and via digital radio, digital satellite and the internet. The English Network can be heard on the BBC's digital multiplex in the UK, or in Europe on the Astra satellite, channel 865. BBC World Service Extra—a new radio service broadcasting in the key languages of Afghanistan and the surrounding region is available on digital satellite channel 902.

    —  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.

    —  High quality reception of World Service programmes is available via satellite in Europe and North America.

    —  The BBC World Service website——contains extensive, interactive news services and audiostreaming available in 43 languages. It also contains detailed information about World Service broadcasts, schedule and frequencies.

BBC World Service

July 2002

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