| 21 Jul 2024
BBC World Service rolls out expansion plans, four new Indian language services

MUMBAI: The BBC World Service has announced its biggest expansion plans  since the 1940s, for the coming year, credited to a 'greatest ever funding boost' received by the organisation from the UK government.

This includes the launch of four new Indian services - Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi - creating 157 new jobs in the region, and making Delhi the BBC’s largest bureau outside the UK. The first new services are expected to launch in 2017.

The BBC World Service will focus particularly on increasing audience reach with younger people and women. The BBC’s Director-General has set a target for the BBC to reach 500 million people worldwide by its centenary in 2022. 

This expansion is a result of the funding boost for the BBC World Service announced by the UK Government last year.

Seven other language services will also launch as part of the expansion. These include Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Igbo, Korean, Pidgin, Tigrinya, and Yoruba. This means the BBC World Service will be available in 40 languages henceforth, including English.  The expansion will also mean more journalists on the ground in locations across the world, says the BBC.        

The BBC World Service will also expand its digital services to offer more mobile and video content, a greater social media presence and new ways of reaching its audience around the globe. The BBC also goes live today with a full digital service in Thai, following the success of the Facebook-only ‘pop-up’ service launched in 2014.

The expansion includes plans for the BBC to: 

·  Launch mobile offers in new Indian languages combined with digital, TV and video output

·  Produce extended news bulletins in Russian, with regionalised versions for surrounding countries, a relaunched website, new digital formats and more journalists on the ground

·  Enhance its television services across Africa, including over 30 new TV programmes for partner broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa

·  Enhance the BBC Arabic offer by delivering new regional programming across the Arab world

·  Broadcast short-wave and medium-wave radio programmes aimed at audiences in the Korean peninsula, supplemented by digital content online and on social media

·  Invest in World Service English, with new programmes, more original journalism, and a broader agenda

·  Continue with the digital transformation of the BBC World Service, including new TV news bulletins, so that all 40 languages will eventually have a video offer

·  Use its global presence to provide an even greater focus on analysis and explanation, or ‘slow news’, helping audiences to make sense of the world by explaining the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’.

BBC Director-General Tony Hall said, "This is a historic day for the BBC, as we announce the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s, [thanks to our greatest ever funding boost].  The BBC World Service is a jewel in the crown – for the BBC and for Britain. As we move towards our centenary, my vision is of a confident, outward-looking BBC which brings the best of our independent, impartial journalism and world-class entertainment to half a billion people around the world. Today is a key step towards that aim.”

Adds BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth, “Today’s announcement is about transforming the World Service by investing for the future.  We must follow our audience, who consume the news in changing ways; an increasing number of people are watching the World Service on TV, and many services are now digital-only.  We will be able to speed up our digital transformation, especially for younger audiences, and we will continue to invest in video news bulletins.  What will not change is our commitment to independent, impartial journalism.”