The UK government is to invest £85 million (€120m) a year in enhancing BBC services around the world including in Russia, North Korea, the Middle East and Ethiopia.
The money is to help “build the global reach of the World Service” to half a billion people and “increase access to news and information”.
The government will provide £34 million between 2016-17 and £85 million a year from 2017-18 for digital, TV and radio. The next review of this funding come in 2020.
Director general Tony Hall said he “warmly welcomed” the announcement. “This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government,” said Hall. “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. We can now further build on that.”
He added: “The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half a billion people globally.”
BBC Trust Chairman Rona Fairhead described the BBC World Service as “a vital cultural export,” informing and educating millions of people across the world every day.
“As the BBC continues to cut costs and faces more reductions in future, it is extremely welcome that proposed new services to extend the global reach of the World Service will be paid for by the additional government spending announced today.
“We hope that if these new services are to continue to thrive beyond 2020, this new government spending continues to be protected,” she stated.
The BBC currently reaches 308 million people worldwide, and its goal is to reach 500 million people by 2022.
Announcing the new funding in its document, the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, the government said: “The 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. We will invest £85 million each year by in the BBC’s digital, TV and radio services around the world to build the global reach of the World Service and increase access to news and information.”