Today, we got this, from the Defence Review...
The BBC currently reaches 308 million people worldwide, and its goal is to reach 500 million people by 2022. 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 2017/18 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.
Presumably, the small print says the licence-payers contribution to this soft power asset stays at 2014/15 levels - £245m. We don't yet know what other strings might be attached. In the old days, it used to be bad enough trying to explain the independence of World Service from government, when nearly all its funding came from the Foreign Office, who also defined how the various services should be targeted. Now, funding coming from what looks like a military stream sits even more oddly.
1700 Update: Here's how the money will be spent...
- Enhanced TV services for Africa
- New radio services for audiences in North Korea; radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea
- Additional language offers via digital and TV in India and Nigeria
- More regionalised content to better serve audiences to the BBC Arabic Service
- Dedicated TV output for Somalia and a fully digital service for Thailand
- Enhanced digital and TV services for Russian speakers, both in Russia and surrounding communities
- A video-led digital transformation of Languages services
- To expand the impact and future-proof World Service English