Friday 18 November 2016

BBC World Service Biggest Expansion Since the 1940s’

New services aimed at North Korea, Russia and much more.
The service’s Russian-language journalism will be boosted to include extended news bulletins, a relaunched website and more journalists on the ground in Russia. On the Korean peninsula, the BBC will broadcast short-wave and medium-wave radio programs that will allow listeners in North Korea to pick up impartial news. The World Service will also expand its digital services to offer more mobile and video content and a greater social media presence.  The World Service will focus particularly on increasing audience reach with younger people and women.

Services in the following 11 languages will launch soon; Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Gujarati, Igbo, Korean, Marathi, Pidgin, Punjabi, Telugu, Tigrinya and Yoruba. The BBC World Service will now be available in 40 languages including English. The expansion will also mean more journalists on the ground in locations across the world.

Other services include a full digital service in Thai, following a successful trial of a Facebook-only “pop-up” service that has been going since 2014. The BBC will also enhance the BBC Arabic offer by delivering new regional programming across the Arab world and its TV services across Africa. 

The expansion comes after David Cameron last year pledged to give the BBC an additional £289 million in funding for the World Service, as part of a broader plan to strengthen Britain’s defense and security. Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, said the biggest expansion since the 1940s was an “historic” moment for the broadcaster. The World Service is a jewel in the crown – for the BBC and for Britain, he said.

The BBC World Service, which began in the early 1930s as a shortwave radio service for outposts of the British empire, now also provides TV programs and online video and audio. It reaches around 246 million people a week through broadcasts in 29 languages, but needs to invest to keep up with the rapid changes in the way people around the world consume news, said Francesca Unsworth, the World Service director. BBC's target is to reach 500m people worldwide by its centenary in 2022.

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