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Politics & press news – Embassy 31

Reverse World Service cuts – MPs

Funding for the BBC World Service should be protected and budget cuts reversed to preserve its global reputation, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has urged.

MPs launched an inquiry into the 79-year-old service, after jobs and services were axed following FCO funding cuts.

Committee chairman Richard Ottaway said: “The value of the World Service in promoting the UK across the globe far outweighs its relatively small cost.”

He added: “The dramatic events in North Africa and the Middle East had shown that the ‘soft power’ wielded through the World Service could bring even more benefits to the UK in the future, and that to proceed with the planned cuts to the World Service would be a false economy.”

There was a public outcry when the Government slashed the World Service’s £237 million-a-year budget by 16 per cent and declared it would be funded from the licence fee from 2014.

Mr Ottoway warned that transfering funding responsibility to the BBC could put long-term pressure on the budget and risked ”a gradual diversion of resources to fund other BBC activities.”

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