LETTER: TV solution for the World Service

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From Mr Gerry Woolf

Sir: While the planned cuts in World Service expenditure are unfortunate ("Rifkind promises to keep 'beacon of freedom' alight", 17 January), surely it's time more money and effort was put into expanding BBC Worldwide TV.

Stuck as I was in a hotel room in the US last week, I craved some decent programming and news coverage. The nearest thing intelligent Americans can find is PBS and the best programmes there are often from the BBC, And everyone knows CNN can't touch the BBC for breadth and depth of news coverage.

In India and the Far East, TV dishes are sprouting at a phenomenal rate. If the UK wants an influence in the world now and in the future, the medium of choice looks certain to be satellite and cable. The crackly old days of shortwave were appropriate for Britain's finest hour and the Cold War, but not the next millennium.

What's more, people are willing to pay a lot of money for the stuff, so World Service Television won't need a handout from the Foreign Office. That's got to be good for everyone, including the BBC.

Yours sincerely,

Gerry Woolf