BBC World Service nets £70 million to boost Arabic service

The BBC World Service has received a £70 million funding increase over the next three years from the British Government.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling confirmed the funding in his Comprehensive Spending Review announcement to Parliament Tuesday 9 October.

The money will help fund the new BBC Arabic Television Service, due to launch at the end of the year. It will initially run as a 12 hour a day news and information service, at a cost of £19m per annum but the additional funding will allow it to run 24 hours a day from some point in the next financial year.

The announcement formally confirmed £15m per annum funding for a BBC news and information television channel in the Farsi (Persian) language for Iran which will be launched next year. The go-ahead for the service was announced in October 2006 by then Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Brown.

The services in Arabic and Farsi will be the first television news services to be launched by the BBC in a decade. They will be the first television services to be publicly funded by Grant-in-aid from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The settlement also includes £1m per annum from 2009/10 to enhance BBC World Service’s multi-media operations in languages relevant to ethnic communities resident in the UK.

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