Parliament & Politics: FO pledge on World Service

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Indy Politics
THE BBC'S World Service should have more flexibility to make changes in broadcasting time, a Foreign Office official said yesterday, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Questioned on a National Audit Office inquiry, published last month, Robert Sheldon, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said that it took some time for the Foreign Office and the service to agree quite small changes and more flexibility was needed.

Sir David Gilmore, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, replied: 'That is something we now want to do.' Giving access to the audit office pointed to a greater flexibility, he said.

The World Service must agree permanent changes in amounts of time broadcast with the Foreign Office. The report found that this led to protracted negotiations.

Questioned over Foreign Office priorities for foreign-language broadcasting, Sir David said high priority languages for broadcasting included Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Russian.