BBC World

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 16th April 2007.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes 2:30 pm, 16th April 2007

If she will consider the merits of providing public funding for BBC World.

Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Creative Industries & Tourism)

BBC World is a commercial service and we have no plans to consider public funding.

Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker Liberal Democrat, Lewes

I cannot say that I am surprised by that response, but will the Minister explain what the logic is of the BBC World Service radio programmes—I understand that there is now some television, too—being funded through a Foreign and Commonwealth Office grant? I recognise the great value of the BBC World Service to this country, but BBC World, which after all uses the growing medium of television rather than radio, is not funded in that manner. Is that not an anachronism that ought to be sorted out?

Photo of Shaun Woodward Shaun Woodward Minister of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) (Creative Industries & Tourism)

The hon. Gentleman makes what may seem to be an interesting point, but I think that he may be a little dispossessed of the facts. Of course we admire the work done by BBC World, as well as the work done by the World Service. The World Service receives £252 million through grant in aid from the Foreign Office, but BBC World is a separate operation. Unlike the World Service, it is a commercial operation funded by subscription and advertising revenues. As such, BBC World contributes to relieving financial burdens on the licence fee payer for the BBC overall.