BBC Chair urges government to fund World Service
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”.