The future of the BBC World Service - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

BBC World Service funding

1.  We welcome the undertaking by the Director of News at the BBC to maintain the budget for the World Service up until the end of the current licence fee period, and his assurance that the next two years of funding will use the 2014-15 budget as a baseline. We urge the BBC to announce detailed funding allocations for 2015-16 and 2016-17 as soon as possible, to enable not just the World Service but also other divisions of the BBC to plan over the longer term. (Paragraph 7)


2.  We have clear differences with the BBC on governance of the World Service. We respect the arguments made by the Director of News in defence of the new arrangements, but it remains to be seen whether they will indeed safeguard the distinct nature of the World Service. We regret that the BBC has moved from a position where the Director of the World Service was a very senior person within the organisation to one where the World Service has no direct voice on the Executive Board or the Management Board, and where the Director is just one of many competing voices on the News Group Board which will take decisions on how the World Service should meet its objectives and targets under the Operating Licence. We do not depart from the reservations which we have expressed in the past about the transfer of funding responsibility and the consequential changes in governance, and we recommend that the BBC should at least allow for direct representation of the World Service at the Management Board—and preferably the Executive Board—on a temporary basis, for five years, while the new funding arrangements for the World Service settle. (Paragraph 16)

The role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

3.  We will continue to speak up for the BBC World Service and its role in projecting the values and interests of the UK across the world. We urge the Foreign Secretary to do the same. We are encouraged to hear that frequent contact between the BBC and the FCO is likely to continue. We were pleased to hear the Foreign Secretary say that he would always "hold the BBC's feet to the fire" in protecting the interests of the World Service. We urge him and his successors to honour that commitment. (Paragraph 21)

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Prepared 31 March 2014