BBC audience in Russia doubles, new figures show

Ukrainian street protesters in January 2014 The crisis in Ukraine has helped drive up audience figures for the BBC

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The BBC's global audience has increased to a record-breaking 265m, up 9m on the previous year, new figures show.

But the figure is still considerably a long way off director general Tony Hall's ambition to reach a global audience of 500m by 2022, which he announced back in October.

The biggest growth is in Russia, driven by the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine. The weekly audience doubled to 6.9m, with the BBC Ukrainian Service trebling its audience to more than 600,000 in the last 12 months.

Peter Horrocks, director of the BBC World Service Group, says: 'Today's figures show the most successful year ever for the BBC's global news services.

'The BBC plays a vital role in troubled times. We know that people around the world turn to the BBC when other impartial information is in short supply, and this is borne out by the sharp increase in audiences in Russia and Ukraine.'

The audience in India has also grown, partly in thanks to Global India, a magazine TV programme that pulls in 6m weekly viewers.

BBC digital news services grew significantly, with a growth of 21% year on year, bringing the digital audience to 46m.

Radio audiences fall

The latest figures, collected by the Global Audience Estimate (GAE), measure the combined reach of the BBC's international services across the world: World Service, World News, and Media Action.

They show that the BBC World Service audience has declined slightly, falling from 192.2 million last year to 191.4 million.

Horrocks adds: 'Radio will be a World Service mainstay for years to come, but as these figures testify, the way people access news is changing and we must continue to innovate if we are to flourish in the years ahead.'

Radio audiences overall have dropped by 17m since last year, although radio still remains the biggest platform with 128m listeners. This compares to 126m TV viewers.

BBC World News, the English TV news channel that relaunched at the beginning of last year, has gained 5m more viewers, taking its audience to 76m.

Quality of journalism

In a blog published on Wednesday, Liliane Landor - who is covering for Horrocks while he's on long-service leave - pays tribute to the quality of the BBC's journalism over the last 12 months.

'Whether it was Anne Soy's dramatic broadcast from the Nairobi mall siege,' she writes, 'Nomsa Maseko's electrifying commentary on what Nelson Mandela meant to South Africans, Lyse Doucet's tireless reporting on the human face of war in Syria, or Olexiy Solohubenko's informed summaries of the Ukrainian crisis, this year has shown the World Service Group's journalism at its very best'.

Even though the global audience is higher than it has ever been, it does show that the pace of growth has slowed.

In 2013 the global audience rose by 16.6m on the previous financial year, taking the audience to 256m; in 2012 it rose by 14m to reach 239m.

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