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The BBC was forced to accept the appointment of a special working party, set up to review its controversial plans to reorganise the World Service, following a frank meeting that was held between the chairman of the BBC governors, Sir Christopher Bland, and the Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind.

The announcement was seen as a partial victory for campaigners fighting to "save the World Service". They have criticised a radical restructuring plan, announced by the BBC Director-General, John Birt, that would separate broadcasting activities from those of production, and bring the news-gathering operations of the English-language World Service under the direct control of the domestic BBC.