The chairman of the BBC has called on the Government to take over funding for the BBC World Service as cuts continue to UK-focused services.
Speaking yesterday, Richard Sharp warned that the BBC would have to make further cuts to the World Service as part of overall budget reductions.
Sharp said the future of the BBC World Service was “in jeopardy” unless the government steps in with more money.
He said the BBC was having to ask whether it was right for “audiences in Leicester, for example, to continue picking up the tab for services in, for example, Lagos”.
There has already been a fierce backlash against cuts to local radio, indicating further cuts to UK services in favour of maintaining international services would face great resistance.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists’ cross-party Parliamentary Group is going to meet Ofcom representatives later this month to discuss planned and implemented cuts.
On the agenda will be the plans for local radio, the closure of local TV in Cambridge and Oxford, the axing of the BBC Radio Foyle Breakfast Show and the closure of the BBC News Channel and BBC World News, in favour of a combined news channel for audiences around the world and the UK.
The NUJ says Ofcom will be asked about the impact of these measures on audiences and what Ofcom should be doing to protect public service broadcasting and the provision of news and current affairs by the BBC.
The most recent rounds of cuts to BBC services have taken place with little or no consultation. What information has been shared has been mostly high-level, with a more detailed breakdown missing.
A number of commercial broadcasters are understood to be unhappy with the way the BBC is requesting reductions or removals of quotas.
Changes have been implemented with little or no notice. The BBC declined to publish updated schedules showing what would replace The Papers on the News Channel until the day after the last edition aired.
The BBC World Service was originally funded through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This changed during the first licence fee freeze that ran from 2011 to 2016, when the BBC was asked to shoulder the cost of S4C, the World Service and the rollout of local TV in addition to funding its own services.
The Government currently pays £94.4 million a year towards the World Service as part of a three-year £283.2m agreement, but that amounts to less than a quarter of the World Service’s total annual budget.
Even if Government funding was only doubled to pay for just under half the World Service budget, that would still enable the BBC to reduce recent cuts to local radio and TV.
PICTURED: BBC chairman, Richard Sharp. COPYRIGHT: BBC.