Trust sets out governance plans for World Service under licence fee funding

Date: 25.06.2013     Last updated: 23.09.2014 at 09.50

The BBC Trust has today published details on how it plans to govern the World Service from April 2014, when it comes under licence fee funding.

In its oversight of the service, the Trust will take a similar approach to the one it uses for the existing BBC public services, publishing a detailed 'Operating Licence' setting out the remit and scope of the service, its annual budget and its main commitments.

The first draft operating licence is published today and the Trust will now run a consultation on the detail of this licence before it comes into effect next year. The Trust will regularly review the performance of the World Service against its licence, just as it does with the other BBC services. The operating licence confirms that the World Service budget will be £245m in 2014/15.

Also published today is a position paper from the Trust on the World Service, which aims to explain the Trust's oversight of the service in more detail, including the approach to partnerships, funding and maintaining the service's independence.

Lord Patten, BBC Trust Chairman, said: "The World Service is widely acknowledged to be one of the UK's greatest gifts to the world, as well as a key part of the BBC's news operation. I've always been clear about our commitment to provide appropriate support to the World Service once it comes under licence fee funding, and within tight financial circumstances for the Corporation as a whole, we've agreed a budget which will aim to provide the service with the stability it needs for the remainder of the Charter period."

Lord Williams, International Trustee, added: "Licence fee funding for the World Service has clear benefits for the BBC's audiences here and around the world, as we bring the domestic and international reporting closer together and each can draw on the other's specialist expertise. It also serves to underline the service's independence from any national or commercial interest, which is so highly valued by audiences globally."

Together, the BBC's global news services reach over 256 million people around the world, according to figures released today. Within the UK, World Service English is available 24 hours a day on digital platforms (online and DAB radio) and overnight on BBC Radio 4 frequencies.

Other language services are also available to UK audiences online, and in time the BBC will be doing more to make these services more easily accessible. The languages in which the World Service operates, and the objectives, priorities and targets of the service have been agreed between the BBC Trust and the Foreign Secretary.

Notes to editors

  1. The change in funding for the World Service was agreed between the BBC and Government as part of the 2010 licence fee settlement. Previously funded by grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from April 2014 the World Service will be wholly funded from the licence fee. Once approved, the new licence will run for the remainder of the current Charter. £245m is the total budget for the World Service, of which £210m is the combined content and distribution budget.
  2. The draft Operating Licence can be found here (PDF file, 90KB).
  3. The consultation on the draft Operating Licence will run from 25 June to 20 September 2013.
  4. The BBC Trust currently holds a service licence for each of the BBC services – more detail can be found here.