30 MARCH 1951, Page 2

Treasury and B.B.C.

The proposal to make a small cut in the allocation for the foreign services of the B.B.C. raises a difficult question. It will not do to be demanding insistently (as good citizens should be doing) that Government expenditure should be reduced sub- stantially. and then object strenuously to every particular pro- posal for a reduction that may be put forward. In the case of the Britishncil the effectiveness of the expenditure can be fairly accurately measured by the results achieved ; and on the whole a sound case against any reduction at the present time has been made. In the case of foreign broadcasts the effects are much less easy to trace, for there Its, by the nature of things, in foreign countries, particularly countries behind the iron curtain, no such Listener Research as enables the effect of the home services to be gauged with some fair approximation to accuracy. The foreign services of the B.B.C. are financed by direct Government grant ; the £1 licence-fees contribute nothing to them. Last year the B.B.C. spent £4,685.000 on these ser- vices, and it had asked this year for a grant of f5,250,000—an increase of £575,000. So far from getting that, it has been told by the Treasury that its last year's allocation will be cut by the trifling- sum of £35,000. This seems a paltry curtailment, and while it is hard to justify an increase of Government expendi- ture on the B.B.C. at this juncture, it is to be hoped that Mr. Gaitskell will at least let last year's total stand.