Government pledges funds for BBC World Service expansion

Rona Fairhead

Rona Fairhead

The BBC Trust has welcomed plans by the government to fund an extension of the BBC’s World Service with additional spending.

As part of its ‘National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015’, published yesterday, the government said it will invest “£85 million each year by 2017/18 in the BBC’s digital, TV and radio services around the world.”

The government said this would build the global reach of the World Service and increase access to news and information, claiming that the BBC World Service reaches some of the most remote places in the world and provides a valuable link to the UK for “individuals and societies who would otherwise not have this opportunity”.

Responding to the news, BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead said: “As the BBC continues to cut costs and faces more reductions in future, it is extremely welcome that proposed new services to extend the global reach of the World Service will be paid for by the additional government spending announced today.

“We hope that if these new services are to continue to thrive beyond 2020, this new government spending continues to be protected.”

The government said that the BBC World Service alone has a global audience of 210 million, and that one in every 16 adults around the world watches, listens to, or reads the BBC news.

The BBC currently reaches a total of 308 million people worldwide and its goal is to reach 500 million people by 2022, the government report added.

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