New World Service Funding Arrangements

October 19, 2010

Breaking news is a bit unusual for this blog but….

The BBC is reporting that in future the World Service will no longer be funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but from the license fee.

The background to this is that the domestic UK is funded by a tax on televisions (the television license –  currently £145.50) that generates £3.45 Bn per year.  The World Service is funded by a grant of £272m from the FCO.  It now looks like the BBC has been negotiating over its contribution to the national austerity programme  and has been forced to accept a six year freeze in the level of the license fee, the funding of the World Service and of Welsh language broadcasting that has been funded by a separate grant.

Three quick reactions.

1. There has been criticism that the BBC has been running two parallel news organizations and that there is scope for a greater integration.

2. In terms of credibility the World Service has always been vulnerable to the fact that it is funded directly by the government so this merger might be advantageous.

3. Given the greater efforts to give a strategic direction to UK public diplomacy over the past few years it will be interesting to see how the relationship with the FCO will be managed.

We should get more information in the next day.

UPDATE: The story is now on the BBC website


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