Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum from the BBC World Service

Spending Review 2002 Proposals

  In a changing world the media powerfully influence and reflect public opinion and ideologies. BBC Monitoring's proposed investments will strengthen its position as the best source of information about media world media reporting, enabling stakeholders (FCO, MoD, CO, BBC WS) to have a deeper understanding of world events, vital for Britain's modern international role. Timely and comprehensive coverage around the clock confers indispensable competitive advantage. Global coverage is secured through the extensive partnership with the US Foreign Broadcast Information Service.

  This major partnership has been reinforced by the powerful new geopolitical dynamics since 11 September. Material produced by BBC Monitoring has passed to the highest levels of the US Government. In the UK BBCM reports have been fed directly to COBRA at peak crisis points and its output (at appreciably increased levels) has been warmly commended by all stakeholders.

  BBC Monitoring is bidding for extra resources in four areas where they need to maintain their reach and capability and where there is a vital requirement for new skills and investment:

    —  The enduring campaign to counter terrorism—additional monitoring and collection capability in key areas, including Afghanistan and South Asia; a new focus on Islamic sources generally; and more effective sifting and delivery of this material to BBCMS's users, including customised content packages.

    —  Coverage Improvement in Africa—reflecting the increasing importance of Africa in terms of Government and World Service priorities, extending coverage where current arrangements are patchy.

    —  Improving delivery and modernising production—two specific, exceptional new capital investments; developing an Internet portal interface for more effective and flexible delivery of services and replacing BBCM's core work processing system.

    —  Additional resources to maintain BBCM's key core capabilities.

  Full details of these bids are contained in BBC Monitoring's fuller bid submission which is available on request. The overall sums are as follows:

Resource Baseline
Capital Baseline
2003-04 Resource Bid
2003-04 Capital
2004-05 Resource Bid
2004-05 Capital
2005-06 Resource Bid
2005-06 Capital

  These bids are supported by all BBC Monitoring's stakeholders. The Director of US FBIS has also written to record their strong support for and interest in the proposals.

  Alastair Campbell wrote in March to Jack Straw, copied to Geoff Hoon and Gordon Brown, about the invaluable services provided by Monitoring over the years. He commented "They are an enormous resource from the Government here and overseas" and hoped that funding would be maintained.

BBC World Service

July 2002

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