The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is providing the BBC World Service with a flat cash three-year settlement of £94.4 million annually. Since 2016, the FCDO has provided over £468 million to the World Service via the World2020 programme, funding 12 language services and enhancements to BBC Arabic, Russian and English.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the BBC World Service plays an ever more important role in countering disinformation, particularly from Russia and elsewhere? Will he therefore look to increase the amount of support that his Department gives to the World Service, and does he share my concern that the BBC is proposing to reduce funding by £28 million with the loss of 10 radio services?
I recognise my right hon. Friend’s long-standing interest in this issue. The FCDO greatly values the World Service’s role in countering disinformation, particularly President Putin’s harmful narratives, and it has provided an additional £1.44 million this year to support this work on top of our annual £94 million funding. The changes reflect the BBC’s ambition to become a digital-first organisation and, as a result, audiences will still retain access to all 42 language services.