Right of Reply: Mark Byford

The chief executive of the BBC World Service responds to claims that the service is being damaged by cuts
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The Independent Culture
RECENT PRESS reports about cuts in BBC World Service funding have been misleading and misinformed.

Far from the "piecemeal destruction" of the BBC World Service alleged in your report ("Foolish BBC accused of destroying World Service", 19 January), our three-year plan is focusing on developing the World Service with new investments.

Last year, World Service put in a bid for additional funding, and was awarded an extra pounds 44m from the Foreign Office phased over the next three years - pounds 30m for programmes and services and pounds 14m to support new capital investments.

We work in a rapidly changing media environment where an increasing number of our listeners are moving away from short-wave radio to FM and the Internet. It is essential that we respond to this challenge with a forward-looking programme of investment, backed up by efficiencies and some reprioritisation.

We have broadcast on short wave for more than 60 years, and will continue to do so in the future. But it is going to be complemented increasingly by FM. The Internet offers exciting new opportunities too, as a global interactive medium.

Discussions about our three-year plan are still continuing with the Foreign Office, but I hope to announce full and accurate details soon.

The BBC is totally committed to the World Service and its global mission.

In a period of dynamic change, we are determined to secure for the long term our reputation as the world's best known and most respected voice in international broadcasting. At the same time, I assure you the World Service will safeguard its inherent values of accuracy, impartiality and objectivity. These principles are non-negotiable in any age.

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