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More money for the BBC World Service from next year

The BBC has received a surprise boost in funding for the BBC World Service.

The Government has said it will provide an extra £37 million in the 2016/17 financial year and £85 million per year from 2017/18 in a five year deal, allowing the corporation to move ahead with plans to improve services around the world.

In September, the BBC said it wanted to launch new services for the Middle East, Africa and North Korea, if was able to secure additional funding. At the time BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth said that any money for the World Service's expansion would not come from the licence fee.

With the money, the BBC says it will now press ahead with:
  • Enhanced TV services for Africa
  • New radio services for audiences in North Korea; radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea
  • Additional language offers via digital and TV in India and Nigeria
  • More regionalised content to better serve audiences to the BBC Arabic Service
  • Dedicated TV output for Somalia and a fully digital service for Thailand
  • Enhanced digital and TV services for Russian speakers, both in Russia and surrounding communities
  • A video-led digital transformation of Languages services
  • To expand the impact and future-proof World Service English

Responding to the news, BBC Director General Tony Hall said:
"I warmly welcome today's announcement. It's fantastic news. This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government.
"The millions announced today will help the BBC deliver on our commitment to uphold global democracy through accurate, impartial and independent news reporting.
"The World Service is one of the UK's most important cultural exports and one of our best sources of global influence. We can now further build on that. The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half a billion people globally."

The BBC Trust's Rona Fairhead called for the new funding to be protected beyond 2020 saying:
"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."

In April 2014, the BBC World Service became a largely licence fee funded unit within the wider BBC after the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cut its funding in accordance with the controversial 2010 licence fee settlement. The World Service also started to carry adverts in some countries to provide additional funding.

BBC World Service funding does not include English language international TV services such as BBC World News TV, which operates as a separate commercial entity. 

The extra funding today follows increased concern that the BBC World Service has been falling behind other international broadcasters, such as the Kremlin funded RT news channel and China's state-owned CCTV, which have both dramatically boosted their presence on digital platforms around the world in the past five years.


  1. Absolute disgrace!, at a time their closing channels and dropping sport here in the UK.

    1. It is a separate pot of funding though, linked to the Government's Defence Spending Review. This isn't money that the BBC can take and splash out on UK services.

    2. Government Funding....still UK tax payers money....still and Absolute disgrace!


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