The Implications of Cuts to the BBC World Service - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence from the BBC World Service


Monday 11 October 2010

1.  The BBC was advised (both Trust and Executive) that as part of the Spending Review (SR) the Government was actively considering the funding of free television licences for the over-75s and the funding of the World Service, and was considering transferring funding responsibility for both from the Government to the licence fee.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

2.  The Director-General had an exploratory telephone conversation with the Secretary of State CMS.

3.  There were internal discussions between the BBC Trust and the BBC Executive about the implications of the SR and about how best to protect the BBC's independence.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

4.  The Director-General and the Secretary of State met to discuss the SR implications for the BBC. With the Chairman's agreement, the Director-General expressed outright opposition to the over-75s proposal but signalled the BBC might be willing to agree to absorb World Service costs if that could be part of a full licence fee settlement running to the end of the Charter period.

Thursday 14 October 2010

5.  The Chairman called the Secretary of State and reiterated the BBC's outright opposition to free licences for the over-75s being funded by the licence fee. He identified the important principles that he thought the Trustees would expect to underpin any settlement negotiations.

6.  The Trustees were updated via a conference call and agreed principles upon which discussions with the Government would continue.

7.  Discussions with the Government continued.

Friday 15 October 2010

8.  Discussions with the Government continued.

Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 October 2010

9.  Talks with the Government continued over the weekend and the BBC continued to assert the principles agreed by the Trustees on 14 October as well as presenting indicative proposals to illustrate the financial implications of any settlement.

10.  Concerned that no progress was being made, the Chairman wrote to the Prime Minister and stated the BBC's objections to the over 75s proposal and the BBC's intention to oppose it, while reiterating the BBC's willingness to consider a full settlement including consideration of the proposal that the licence fee payer fund the World Service.

Monday 18 October 2010

11.  The Secretary of State met the Chairman and then the Director-General. He informed them that the Government still had in mind to impose the full cost of the over-75s' licences on the licence fee. The Chairman and the Director General both made clear the BBC would oppose this, and talks were suspended.

12.  At the Secretary of State's initiative, talks were resumed and continued through the night between the BBC and the Government. A set of draft proposals was prepared for review by the Executive Board and the Trustees.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

13.  The Executive Board met and agreed that it would be possible to implement the settlement.

14.  The Trustees held a teleconference. They noted that the Executive Board had advised that implementation of the settlement was possible. Therefore on the basis that the proposals were consistent with the principles the Trustees had agreed on 14 October, they agreed to the settlement and delegated authority to the Chairman to conclude discussions with the Government.

15.  Details of the impact of the SR on the BBC came into the public domain.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

16.  The Chairman, the Director-General, and the Director of the World Service met the Foreign Secretary to discuss the implications of the settlement for the World Service.

17.  The Government announced the results of the SR.

Thursday 21 October 2010

18.  An exchange of letters between the Secretary of State and the Chairman formallyrecorded the licence fee settlement reached.

19.  The Secretary of State announced full details of the licence fee settlement in Parliament as part of the Culture Media and Sport spending review statement. [Hansard Column 64WS refers]


Tuesday 14 December 2010

20.  The Director-General, the Deputy Director and the Director of the World Service met the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport and the FCO Permanent Under-Secretary of State, to discuss options for delivering the savings required by the Spending Review settlement.

14 March 2011

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Prepared 13 April 2011