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Committee launches new inquiry on the future funding of the BBC World Service

26 April 2024

BBC World Service provides trusted news to radio, TV and digital audiences around the world in 42 languages including English, reaching a global audience of 318 million people.

Scope of the inquiry

It is chiefly funded by the UK Licence Fee with additional grant funding of £104.4mn from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Under this arrangement, the BBC World Service agreed not to close any language services – but this condition is set to be lifted in 2025.

BBC Director General, Tim Davie, made it clear in a speech in March 2024 that “we cannot keep asking UK Licence Fee payers to invest in (the World Service) when we face cuts to UK services. We will need to discuss a long-term funding solution for the World Service that comes from central government budgets.”

Given its impact on the UK’s development goals, and the projection of the UK’s values across the world, the International Development Committee is launching a short inquiry to establish the case for increased Government support and make recommendations beyond the current support package finishing in 2025.

The inquiry will focus on the BBC’s offering to ODA eligible countries and the positive influence of the service as part of the UK’s soft power.

The Committee is now inviting written evidence submissions, by 20 May, addressing any or all of the following areas:

  • What contribution does the BBC World Service make to the development goals around the world and in ODA eligible countries in-particular?
  • What soft power advantages does the World Service provide for the UK and the projection of its values?
  • What trends are there in the funding and support for internationally focussed broadcasters in countries such as China, the US, France and Russia?
  • What are the likely financial needs of the World Service in the coming years and the likely damage to its offering in the short-term if funds are not forthcoming?
  • What are the merits and concerns surrounding the possible funding models for the BBC World Service?

Submitting written evidence

The committee welcomes evidence to inform its inquiry from a wide range of people. These may include experts, stakeholders, government leaders and officials - but we welcome contributions from anyone with insights. In this instance we will be gathering written information until a deadline of Monday 20 May 2024. Submit written evidence via our call for evidence page.

For information on how to submit written information to us, and how we then use that information, please see here. As well as taking written evidence the committee will hold question and answer sessions. These sessions will take place in public and will be announced in advance on our website.

Further information

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