Government makes U-turn on BBC World Service funding

The radio network will receive an extra £2.2 million each year following October spending cut

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The BBC World Service is to be given extra funding to maintain its Arabic Service, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague.

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“It is right that we should look at ways in which we can assist the BBC Arabic Service to continue their valuable work in the region,” he said.

“I have agreed that we will provide additional funding of £2.2 million per annum to enable the World Service to maintain the current level of investment.”

A further £9 million is to be allocated to fund the World Service’s Hindi language shortwave service.

The announcement comes after last October’s cuts, which saw the government slash the station’s budget by 16 per cent. Mr Hague defended that move as “fair and proportionate” but said that recent events in the Middle East had made a re-think necessary.

“We recognise that the world has changed since the settlement was announced in October last year,” he said.

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In an interview in the latest edition of Radio Times, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she was disappointed by changes to World Service programming, and in particular the departure of DJ Dave Lee Travis. But any suggestions that this prompted the government U-turn are apparently wide of the mark.