Entertainment & Arts

BBC World Service in government funding cut

BBC World Service logo
Image caption The World Service will be funded by the licence fee from 1 April 2014

The BBC World Service is to have its funding cut by £2.22m this financial year, the government has announced.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten called the news "disappointing", though the head of the World service said there would be "no cuts to output".

Funding for the World Service will transfer from the Foreign Office to the BBC licence fee from next April.

In response to the announcement, Lord Patten said the BBC would increase the service's funding to £245m in 2014.

The figure is £6.5m more than the £238.5m currently being provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"This is the fourth 'one-off' funding cut in four years," said Peter Horrocks, director of the World Service.

The service, he continued, was "determined that this unexpected cut should not damage existing services to audiences"

There would be "no cuts to output nor reductions to staff or headcount as a result" of the cut, though it did mean the service would "not be able to invest in new programmes and platforms as planned".

Mr Horrocks welcomed the Trust's confirmation of its 2014 budget, which he said would protect the service.

"International broadcasting is a business that needs long-term strategy and consistent funding support," he said.

"When it comes under licence fee funding from April next year, the BBC Trust will be able to give the World Service a far greater degree of financial security," said Lord Patten.

As a result, he continued, "it can continue to provide its much-needed and valued services for audiences around the world".

The BBC said it was also expecting the Foreign Office to fund an extra £500,000 this financial year for new TV services in Afghanistan, Burma and Somalia.

Speaking last year, Horrocks said 2012 had seen the World Service recover from "very substantial cuts and drops in audience".

The operation lost an audience of around 14 million following government cuts to its budget which resulted in five of its language services being dropped.

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