Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

MP questions decision on funding BBC World Service

Television licence fee payers should not have to pay for BBC World Service programmes they cannot receive, former culture secretary Ben Bradshaw has said.

At Commons question time on 9 November 2010, Labour MP Mr Bradshaw hit out at the transfer of funding for the World Service from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to the BBC.

Mr Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, asked: "Isn't it the case that the World Service can be in parts of the world a better ambassador for Britain than any number of embassies and diplomats?

"But doesn't this change raise some serious questions about its long-term governance and funding because why should the licence fee payer in Britain pay for programmes they can't receive - and probably wouldn't be interested in receiving - and therefore why should the BBC continue to fund them?"

Foreign Secretary William Hague told MPs that the decision would save the taxpayer £212m.

He said the FCO, together with the BBC, would continue to set the targets and direction of the World Service and pledged that "no language services will be opened or closed without my agreement".

Mr Hague said the BBC was "very enthusiastic about this change".

"They believe there is more that they can do, through bringing the BBC World Service and their other activities together, to develop the World Service in the future," he said.

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