Chris Patten BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten Credit: James Yuanxin Li
BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten has vowed to try and protect the World Service from spending cuts, possibly at the expense of one of the broadcaster's digital TV channels.

In an interview with yesterday's Sunday Telegraph Patten said he will urge the foreign secretary, William Hague to protect the World Service, describing the Arabic network as "at the core of what the BBC is doing".

He added that he was "very keen on the Somali and Hindi services as well".

According to the Telegraph, Patten indicated that additional savings could come from the scrapping of one of the BBC's digital television channels BBC3 or BBC4. He also said he is looking into a new system to ensure that executive salaries could not dwarf those of the average employee.

The broadcaster is currently targeting a 25 per cent reduction in its senior management pay costs by December this year. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's the Today programme last month, Patten acknowledged that some BBC executives are still being paid too much.

Patten also indicated that the broadcaster's sports coverage could suffer: "I think we're bound to face some tough decisions in the area of sport. It's extremely difficult for the BBC to bid for as many sports rights as it would like."

National Union of Journalists general secretary-elect Michelle Stanistreet welcomed Patten's comments:

"The NUJ welcomes the commitment by Lord Patten to put a stop to the damaging cuts at the BBC World Service. We are pleased he has recognised the international protests against the cuts which echoed everything that BBC journalists have said about their concern for the service they provide.

"The continuing attacks on our members’ jobs are a result of the continuing economic meltdown. The NUJ is determined to take all action necessary to defend the jobs of journalists and to protect the vital public service they provide."

The World Service is currently facing a 16 per cent funding cut over the next four years, as set out in last year's government spending review.

An agreement struck between the BBC and the coalition government will see the broadcaster take over the funding of the World Service from the foreign office in 2014.

It was announced in January that the proposed budget cuts would result in the loss of around 650 jobs at the service and the loss more than 30 million listeners.

It was also announced that five foreign-language services would be cut: Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian; as well as English for the Caribbean regional service.

Image by James Yuanxin Li on Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

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