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BBC Chair urges government to fund World Service

(Photo: BBC)

The BBC Chair, Richard Sharp, has urged the government to take over the funding of its World Service, saying it could be in jeopardy without a significant funding boost.

In a speech in London, Mr Sharp said: “Financial pressure means that we have now reached a crunch point.”

Until 2014, the UK Foreign Office funded the World Service in full, before then-Prime Minister David Cameron transferred budgetary responsibility to the BBC and to TV licence fee payers.

The BBC says it now covers more than three-quarters of funding for the World Service from the licence fee, equating to around £300 million (US$370 million). The rest is covered by annual Foreign Office grants amounting to around £100 million.

Mr Sharp warned that a substantial cash boost could not be met by the BBC and urged the government to step in.

He said the BBC reached three-quarters of audiences in “countries from India to Indonesia” but was still losing out to countries such as Russia and China, which were “outspending our World Service investment by a multiple of thousands”.