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Moldova: BBC External Services

Volume 479: debated on Thursday 17 July 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the BBC World Service's cessation of broadcasting to Moldova and Romania from 1 August 2008. (218545)

Since Romania acceded to the EU in 2007 the scale of the competition in radio and all media has intensified. Additionally, mergers have meant that several major FM network partner stations which previously carried BBC Romanian output no longer do so. These FM partnerships are critical in a country where direct listening to the BBC via short wave is neither popular nor cost effective. Since 2007 there has been a significant drop in the audience—currently it is under 3 per cent. of the local radio market in Romania.

Romania will continue to be served by other BBC global news services in English including BBC World Service radio, BBC World News television and online (via bbc.com/news). The BBC's local FM relays (four in Romania and one in the Republic of Moldova), which currently broadcast a mixture of Romanian and English programmes, will broadcast English programmes exclusively (plus Russian and Ukrainian in Moldova), subject to agreement with local regulators.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the BBC World Service's policy on broadcasting to Eastern European countries is, with specific reference to Moldova and Romania; and if he will make a statement. (218546)

The BBC has announced that it will close its Romanian Service from August 2008. This change follows a review of the BBC World Service's language service portfolio after its overall funding levels, for the three year funding period between 2008-2009 and 2010-2011, were agreed with the Government in October 2007.

This decision, which has been endorsed by the BBC Trust and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, follows consideration of audience desire to continue broadcasts, the changing media landscape in Romania and the declining impact of the service.

Broadcasts in Romanian for the Republic of Moldova will also cease, as the Moldovan side of the operation cannot be sustained without the infrastructure of BBC Romanian.