British lawmakers fear for BBC World Service under new funding

BBC newsreader Iain Purdon takes off his headphones after delivering the final BBC World Service news bulletin from BBC Bush House in central London

British lawmakers raised fears on Monday for the future of the BBC World Service, the world’s largest international broadcaster, as funding shifts from government grants to financing by domestic television user fees.

Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said it was concerned that a change in funding and a lack of presence on the BBC’s executive or management boards would erode the on-air and online influence of the radio and television service.

The BBC World Service, which started as the “Empire Service” in 1932, airs news and discussions around-the-clock in 28 languages, reaching about 190 million people a week.

From April 1, it will no longer be funded by the government via the Foreign Office but from the compulsory £145.50 annual fee paid by all households with a television to finance Britain’s public sector broadcaster.

“We have clear differences with the BBC on governance of the World Service .. It remains to be seen whether they will indeed safeguard the distinct nature of the World Service,” the committee said in a report on Monday.

The World Service has been given a budget of £245 million in 2014/15, which the committee welcomed along with an undertaking by the BBC’s news director to maintain this level until the current license fee period ends in 2016.

But with the BBC under pressure to make cuts, promising in 2011 to reduce its budget by 20% or £700 million by 2016/17, the committee said it was concerned for future funding of services such as Hindi or the west African language Hausa at the expense of domestic programming…

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Just more symptoms of the decline of the West, which is obvious to just about everyone now. Since the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya carried this article, perhaps Saudi Arabia would like to contemplate something other than spreading Wahabbi Islam with its vast store of funds.

Nope, I don’t think they are interested either.