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In biggest boost since 1940s, BBC World Service adds 11 languages

By Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon | LONDON The BBC said on Wednesday that its World Service will begin broadcasting in 11 additional languages in a drive to reach millions more people, including in places like

By Guy Faulconbridge and Estelle Shirbon | LONDON

The BBC said on Wednesday that its World Service will begin broadcasting in 11 additional languages in a drive to reach millions more people, including in places like North Korea where impartial news is hard to get.

The World Service started out in 1932 as a radio channel for English-speakers in the British empire but has morphed over time into a highly respected provider of news to global audiences. It already broadcasts in 29 languages, reaching an estimated 246 million people around the world every week.

The expansion is a result of a funding injection of 289 million pounds ($360 million) until 2020 announced by the government last year. The boost reversed a previous decision to cut World Service funding and was part of a broader strategy to increase Britain’s ‘soft power’.

“This is a historic day for the BBC, as we announce the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s,” said BBC Director General Tony Hall. “The BBC World Service is a jewel in the crown – for the BBC and for Britain.”

Fran Unsworth, director of the World Service, said the new funding from government would have no impact on the service’s independence. “Where the money comes from is irrelevant,” she said in an interview on BBC Radio 4.

“The World Service is going to do what it’s always done, go over the heads of government providing a service directly to citizens of the world,” she said.

The additional African languages will be Afaan Oromo and Amharic, spoken in Ethiopia and other countries, Tigrinya, the main language of Eritrea, and Nigerian languages Igbo, Yoruba and Pidgin, also spoken in other West African countries.

The World Service will also add Indian languages Gujarati, Marathi and Telugu, as well as Punjabi which is widely spoken in Pakistan and parts of India, and Korean, spoken in both North and South Korea.

The expansion will mean more journalists on the ground in locations around the world.

The BBC will also extend its news bulletins in Russian, with regionalised versions for surrounding countries, and add regional programming in Arabic and short-wave and medium-wave radio programs aimed at audiences in the Korean peninsula.

“We do believe that there is an opportunity for North Koreans to have access to free and independent and impartial information,” said Unsworth.

She said BBC Monitoring, a service that keeps track of stories published or broadcast by other media around the world, had reported this week that most North Koreans did not know Donald Trump had won the U.S. presidential election.

The BBC as a whole reaches a weekly global audience of 348 million people. Hall has set a target for it to reach 500 million people worldwide by its centenary in 2022.

Source: Reuters

Review overview
  • Observant November 16, 2016

    Best wishes to the BBC, one of the greatest and quality service to the whole world.
    Assenna, Asmarino and Meskerem should learn one or two basic things from the BBC.
    Keep expanding and serving the whole community of the world with the top quality service.
    I particularly followed and enjoyed BBC’s ‘world service’ while in Saudi Arabia with admiration.

  • Araya November 16, 2016

    You are comparing ant/zatsie/with harmaz/elephant

  • andom November 16, 2016

    The tyrrany in asmara will do everything it can to discourage eritreans from listenning to it.

    • koubrom November 17, 2016

      No it want adgom everyone is free to listen whatever they want, people can judge for themselves the reality, media bias against eritrea couldn’t do anything.
      the world know much better the reality in eritrea.
      Look at mainstream media how they demonized trump ,racist rapist pro-russia many more,
      For them it was a jock ,so look who win, trump
      Those journalist forgot their rule they went into advocacy ,believe me they should put them in jail .so their no free media, it’s about interest.

  • Hadas November 16, 2016

    ጽቡቕ ብስራት እዩ። እንተኾነ ግና “ከምዚ ሓሲብካ” ፤ ተባሂሉ፤ ሰብ ኣብ ዝሕየረሉን ዝግረፈሉን ሃገር ደኣ፥ ራድዮ ቢቢሲ ወይ ኣሰና “ሰሚዕካ” ተባሂሉ ክንደይ ዓመታት ከምዘእስር ባዕልኹም ገምትዎ።

  • Z. Hagos November 16, 2016

    I hope the BBC is going to be for promoting democracy in Eritrea, i.e., pro-the-justice seekers. According to the opposition members, the voice of America or its broadcasters are pro-the-tyrant giving wide coverage to pro-the-regime messages.. Members of the justice seekers should start building good relationship with the BBC Tigrigna staff in order to ensure their side is fairly reported. Unlike the tyrant’s members, who try to influence news service agencies or news broadcasters to their side rather than request and ensure that they are fairly reported of, the opposition members are for being fairly and justly treated in reported news. After all, news agencies like BBC should not take sides. The opposition does have any corruption and, accordingly, its members are not looking forward to cover ups of its crimes and weaknesses, as the pro-tyrant group does.

    • Yemane November 16, 2016

      Z.Hagos, you talk so much nonsense about the members of the justice seekers.
      What exactly constructive action have you so far taken against the tyrant and the regime?
      Can we take your non-stop rhetorics any serious or you are just another waste of time losers?

  • Sol November 17, 2016

    Mr. Yemane, if you are a genuine justice seeker tell us what are the constructive actions that are supposed to be taken against the fascistic regime of DIA in-order to bring an end to the suffering of our people.

    • koubrom November 17, 2016

      There is no suffering in eritrea ,that is in your tiny brain ,people like you lie so much they start believing themselves ,their is no end shabia is the pillar of the existence of eritrea, we don’t want puppet regime like in ethiopia, nor your BBC nor the ethiopian army that all hashawiyee opposition that put their hope on it will not going to do anything ,
      So All of you go home buy a rope in the confort of your room or in the refugee camp hung yourself ,

    • Yemane November 17, 2016

      Z.Hagos and Sol, you two are a waste of time may be you don’t have anything to do.
      Sol, may be you can answer my question that I was going to ask Z.Hagos is simply short,
      Are you and others like you really justice seekers or job seekers? Try to get real jobs in your
      lives that will make you real men or real people. No more lies about Eritrea.

      • AHMED SALEH !!! November 17, 2016

        You better join the forum to share ideas instead reactions of childish behavior ,
        If you have problem with JUSTICE SEEKERS and at the same time to call a
        TYRANT REGIME , it seems you do not belong to none of them .
        Go ahead you are free to fool yourself my friend .

      • Teclay November 17, 2016

        Yemane /////Assena
        There are a lot of garbage here,in the comment part.The solution = once you know,he is a nonsense commentator,repeating terminologies,such as ,democracy,dictator,just seeker ,e.t.c., just jump it and it is not worth answering them.
        Amanuel,you have a big potential as a journalist,and you will be well known like the BBC journalists if you fellow the following (in my opinion );
        -Throwaway your Sahil experience,being only a human being and a journalist ,just like you had been before Sahil ….as there is no good comes from Sahil.
        – If you have gusts to be interviewed,try to ask them hard questions,whether they like it or not .,example BBC hard talk .

  • Z. Hagos November 17, 2016

    You seem to be generous with speaking against the Eritrean justice seekers. Definitely, you must be one of the die-hard supporters of the tyrant. If you are not supportive, the least expected, of the future democratic process in Eritrea, you will always keep coming from every open widow to fuel hatred against the justice seekers. Look at your friend Alem Goitem, the leader of the opposition against the Eritrean opposition, is always confused by the success of the justice seekers in Geneva and NYC. Alem Goitem does not know what he is saying nowadays and his website is drying up against the Eritrean opposition because everything is bright on the side of the opposition. His stance against the Eritrean justice seekers is worse than that of the tyrant. Anyway, he is having sleepless nights for his badmouthing against the Eritrean youth and the Eritrean children who are fleeing the country.
    Alem Goitem’s, like yours, demeaning behavior is damaging his images. As a result, he lost all of his old friends. Equally, he has no friends from the tyrant’s side because the tyrant’s supporters consider him too much against the Eritrean innocent person, as if he hates everything Eritrean. Alem Goitem, like you, is gifted in creating problems and betraying his friends, family and his country. His slippery behavior is even not acceptable to the pro-tyrant groups. The too much lies and the too much misrepresentation badly shaping and damaging the truth is found to be a threat to the tyrant, too. So, the tyrant supporters are staying away from him. BTW, Alem Goitem, like you, is a criminal by inability to stop the chain of lies against the Eritrean children, youth and mothers all over the world.

  • Alem November 17, 2016

    I just wanted to clarify more about the two groups
    and how you yourself were able to access or get
    this inside secret information ?
    I had been doing a lot of service for the people and
    the country here for almost two decades, Now,
    Are you trying to tell me I was naïve, deceived,
    played at by the both the “justice seekers” and the
    dictators or
    You are using your usual trademark of alienating
    and character assassination so as to exclude ones
    now that your goal seemed so close and at hand ?
    Let us know more about , please !

    • koubrom November 18, 2016

      Oh yeah you where helping our people to leave the country, your are human trafficker, like your father a murderer we will get you soon you and your sister human smuggler.

  • Alem November 17, 2016

    Read as
    I just wanted YOU to clarify……………….

    • AHMED SALEH !!! November 17, 2016

      No wonder too many nick-names confuse forum participants . It become playing field
      for run , chase and catch game .
      I don’t know why are you offended and nobody can understand the reason behind your
      claim. Obviously it is joke unless you represent yourself with different identities . And I
      have no doubt you do . I am sure you got caught in your game .