Britain to boost BBC funding for ‘soft power’


LONDON: The BBC World Service will get a funding boost to strengthen London’s “soft power” in a security review released Monday, allowing for increased Russian services, television in Africa and radio for North Korea.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) listed the BBC’s international broadcasting service as an institution that would help “project our global influence”, a British security objective.

“We have chosen to… expand our world-leading soft power and our global reach to promote our values and interests, using our diplomats and development assistance, and through institutions such as the BBC World Service,” the review read.

The government will invest £289 million by 2020 in world BBC digital, television and radio services “to build the global reach of the World Service and increase access to news and information,” it said.

“BBC World Service reaches into some of the most remote places in the world, providing a link to the UK for individuals and societies who would otherwise not have this opportunity,” it added.

In a statement the BBC welcomed the extra funding and said it would help enhance television in Africa, create new radio services for North Korean audiences, and provide radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In addition, there are to be more languages on offer in digital and TV coverage in India and Nigeria, more regionalised content on the BBC Arabic Service, enhanced digital and TV services for Russian speakers, a dedicated television service for Somalia and a digital service for Thailand.

“It’s fantastic news. This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government,” BBC director general Tony Hall said in a statement.

“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.”

The BBC World Service provides news and analysis worldwide in 29 languages and reaches 308 million people worldwide, a figure it hopes to increase to half a billion by 2022.

The funding boost came after Britain’s public service broadcaster outlined budget cuts of £150 million to its domestic service because of a shortfall in funding due to declining television ownership.



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