BBC Hindi Service saved from closure

Hague has agreed to give an extra 2.2 million pounds annually to the World Service for the next three years from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office budget.

The BBC Trust has also reallocated 9 million pounds of existing World Service funding to editorial investment over three years to counter the impact of the government funding cuts.

The fresh allocation of funds ensures the continuation of the Hindi Service as well as the Arabic Service.

In a statement in the House of Commons, Hague announced that the BBC World Service will be allocated an additional 9 million pounds.

Hague said besides the Hindi Service, the funding boost will enable the Arabic Service to continue its "valuable work in the region".

Hague's statement today confirms chairman of BBC Trust Lord Chris Patten's efforts to ensure the continuation of the Hindi Service, which, he told PTI last week, was a "very important service".

As part of major funding cuts announced in the BBC in January, the BBC Hindi Service was to close in March, but after much criticism in India and here, it was given a year's reprieve (until March 2012) to explore an alternate model of funding to ensure its continued functioningHague said in his statement: "Changes in the World Service contribution to the overall BBC pension deficit and lower than expected restructuring costs will also release an extra 9 million pounds over three years for investment in services. This additional funding should help safeguard the continuation of the Hindi shortwave service".

He said he would continue to work with Lord Patten "to ensure that the World Service retains its global influence and reach in a rapidly changing world".

In January, the BBC had announced plans to close five of its 32 World Service language services to save 46 million pounds a year.

Patten told PTI in Oxford last week that due to the importance of the Hindi Service and increasingly deeper relations India, he was making all efforts to ensure its survival amidst funding cuts.

"We will ensure that an alternate funding model will be in place to ensure its future beyond March 2012. The Hindi Service will resume broadcast bulletins in the morning and evenings... We have been able to mitigate the damage caused to the service (by the recent funding cuts)," he said.

In its latest report, the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee said the proposed closure of the Hindi Service was a matter of "deep concern", and recommended that the BBC World Service should "commit itself to longer-term support for an unreduced BBC Hindi shortwave service".

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