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MPs Welcome BBC Plans to Prioritize Arabic Service

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TEHRAN, June 13 (ICANA) – The all-party Foreign Affairs Committee Monday welcomed the new BBC chairman's commitment to reduce the impact of government budget cuts on the corporation's World Service and especially his plans to prioritize the Arabic Service.
Monday, June 13, 2011 6:45:19 PM
MPs Welcome BBC Plans to Prioritize Arabic Service

Committee chair Richard Ottaway said he was also very pleased to hear that Lord Patten “recognizes the extraordinary value to the UK of the BBC World Service, and that he plans to take up its cause with the Foreign Secretary (William Hague)”.

“I'm particularly pleased that Lord Patten plans to prioritise the Arabic Service, at a time when the need for it couldn't be more evident or more important,” Ottaway said.

At the end of January, the BBC World Service announced sweeping cuts to staff and services in order to cope with a 16% reduction in its funding by 2014-15, ahead of Foreign Office plans to end the payment from its own budget and pass responsibility to the BBC.

In a report in April, the Foreign Affairs Committee called for the cuts to be reversed and for funding for the World Service to be ring-fenced, in reflection of its disproportionate value to the UK as a source of 'soft power'.

“My committee said that the Arabic Service should receive priority treatment. My Committee has found support across the House of Commons in calling for the World Service to be protected from spending cuts, and I look forward to hearing the outcome of Lord Patten's efforts', Ottaway said.

Patten was appointed to chair BBC Trust last month after previously serving as a former EU Commissioner for External Affairs and Britain's last governor of Hong Kong.

He made his commitment to reduce the impact of budget cuts and to lobby Hague in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, when he described World Service as 'an institution to be proud of'.

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