Back in October 2010, we learned that the BBC would take over the cost of the World Service from the Foreign Office from April 2014. Shorty thereafter, the BBC World Service was dealt a 20% budget cut which eventually lead to the loss of 550 jobs. Now April 2014 is upon us.
The BBC, which is largely funded by a mandatory TV license fee, must now share its budget with the World Service. But even after the announcement of this consolidation, the TV license fee was not increased accordingly.
And then there’s another over-arching question: Will the BBC be a good steward of the World Service? BBC World Service boss, Peter Horrocks was recently asked this question by The Guardian:
“The switch from government to licence fee funding prompted fears that if the BBC faces further downward pressure on budgets – surely inevitable – it will be the World Service that suffers rather than a domestic channel such as BBC2. “Of course there may be people who make those arguments,” concedes Horrocks. But he argues that licence fee payers directly benefit from the World Service’s role as an ambassador for the UK and from its journalists who increasingly contribute to the BBC’s domestic output. Plus, it has nearly 2 million listeners in the UK every week (including its overnight broadcasts on Radio 4).”
Horrocks is being optimistic. After all, while not on the scale of the BBC, the death of Radio Canada International had much to do with the fact that the domestic news arm, the CBC, found RCI an easy cut. When the CBC was dealt a 20% overall budget cut, it cut RCI’s budget by 80%, effectively firing Canada’s radio “ambassador.”
Moving forward, the BBC World Service is dipping its feet into commercialization to prop up their relatively meager budget and to lighten the load on the TV license payee. As my buddy Richard Cuff says, this is a slippery slope–and as Peter Horrocks states, “It’s not that easy to get advertising in Somalia.“
If you would like to read more about the changes at the BBC World Service, check out these most recent articles:
- The Guardian: BBC’s Peter Horrocks: ‘It’s not that easy to get advertising in Somalia’
- BBC News: BBC ‘must protect’ World Service, MPs say
- The Economist: Foreign Losses
You can also follow our tag: BBC World Service Cuts