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ThE MaStEr

Cuts planned at BBC World Service
Friday, September 24 2010, 10:23 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,


The BBC's World Service is scrapping regular drama programming after more than 75 years as part of a major cost-cutting drive, it has emerged.

According to The Guardian, World Service will drop its contract with the BBC's Audio & Music department for 14 radio plays a year from April 2011.

Also from next year, World Service will ditch its weekly hour-long BBC Proms highlights programme, as well as the daily Wimbledon highlights shows that run during the annual tennis tournament.

Proms coverage will solely be available in the World Service arts programme The Strand, while sports bulletins will continue to cover Wimbledon.

In a leaked email to staff, World Service controller of English Global News Craig Oliver said that some "difficult" decisions had to be made due to the "increasingly tough financial climate".

A BBC spokesman added: "Like all of the public sector, BBC World Service is having to respond to the challenges of an increasingly difficult financial climate at home and abroad. These are tough decisions, taken carefully and with great thought.

"We acknowledge that they will not be popular with some of our audiences and we share their disappointment."

The latest round of cost-cutting precedes what are expected to be much deeper cuts after the Foreign Office concludes negotiations over World Service's £272m annual grant.

There have been fears that the cuts, estimated to be up to 25% of the World Service budget, could result in broadcasts to countries such as Burma being scrapped.

Outgoing BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons recently confirmed that the corporation was in "robust" talks with the Foreign Office over the cuts.

However, he urged the government to give World Service more money rather than less as it is "among the most valued parts of the BBC's output both in terms of its standing in this country but certainly across the world".

Earlier in the month, the foreign secretary William Hague said that the prospect of World Service's budget cuts impacting broadcasts to smaller countries was "correspondingly small".


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Cuts planned at BBC World Service





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