U.K. gov't provide $3.5 million for Arabic service

The U.K. government will cushion the blow of BBC World Service budget cuts by providing an extra £2.2 million ($3.5 million) a year over the next three years.

Coin will be used to maintain BBC Arabic Service’s “valuable work in the region,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

The BBC also will allocate an extra $14 million to safeguard the Hindi-language shortwave service.

The move follows a 16% cut to the World Service’s $435 million budget as part of last fall’s public spending review, which froze the BBC license fee and transferred responsibility for funding the World Service from the Foreign Office to the pubcaster.

The new money means the World Service will have to cut its $407 million annual budget by $68 million, rather than $74 million, by the end of March 2014.

The BBC is due to take over funding the World Service using license fee money beginning April 2014. Until then, the U.K. Foreign Office will continue to pay for the operation.Despite the extra cash, five language services are due to shutter — Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, Portuguese for Africa, and English for the Caribbean.

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