Britain on Sunday announced a grant of £90 million to the BBC to focus on 14 countries, including Pakistan, to reach out to the world’s toughest places through social networking websites and other medium.
The grant comes after the Foreign and Commonwealth office had announced last year that the BBC World Service would no longer receive funds from 2014. Funding cuts affected the BBC’s Hindi service, but much of it has now been restored.The new funding announced Sunday comes from the Department of International Development (DFID),
which wants the BBC to target 14 countries, including Pakistan, Myanmar and the Palestinian territories. Scott Barbour/Getty Images
The new funding announced Sunday comes from the Department of International Development (DFID), which wants the BBC to target 14 countries, including Pakistan, Myanmar and the Palestinian territories.
Stressing the role played by social media in the Arab Spring, DFID secretary Andrew Mitchell said: “The Arab Spring showed how access to free and trustworthy information can have profound social consequences. We want to build on that.”
The £90 million will be aimed at social networking websites and mobile phone technology, as well as traditional radio output in the targeted countries.
He added: “The media could be one of our most powerful tools in reaching out to… the world’s toughest places. We want to give people knowledge and a voice.”
After reviewing cuts to the BBC World Service, a committee of MPs had earlier this year suggested that the DFID should use part of its budget to make up the shortfall.
Unlike other departments, the DFID’s budget has not been subject to major public spending cuts by the David Cameron government as part of its efforts to reduce budget deficit.
In October 2010, the government reduced the BBC World Service’s £237 million annual budget by 16 percent. In response to the cuts, the BBC said it would close five of its 32 language services and cut up to 650 jobs over three years, the BBC said.
“This grant recognised the vital role we play and will help us reach 200 million people across 14 countries over the next five years,” said Caroline Nursery, director of the BBC World Service Trust.
The BBC World Service is currently funded by the UK government through parliamentary grant-in-aid, administered by the Foreign Office.
The BBC said that the World Service, which started broadcasting in 1932, currently costs £272 million a year and has an audience of 241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.