Last updated October 2008
World's Reference Point
BBC World Service is the world's reference point – a global hub for high quality information, communication and entertainment.
Available on radio, online all over the world and DAB and satellite in the UK, it is the best known and most respected voice in international broadcasting.
At least 182 million people listen each week to BBC World Service's programmes, consisting of news, information, education and entertainment in English and 31 other languages.
Independent market research shows that listeners respect BBC World Service for its accuracy, editorial independence and expertise. It is the radio service most listened to by opinion formers around the world.
Since BBC World Service started broadcasting on December 19, 1932 its role and contribution to the world have been repeatedly endorsed by prominent world leaders.
Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, said in 1999 at the opening of the BBC's Washington DC news bureau, "The BBC World Service is perhaps Britain's greatest gift to the world this century."
BBC World Service creates a forum for the exchange of ideas across cultural, linguistic and national boundaries.
It also promotes interest in Britain and the English language around the world, projecting Britain's values of trustworthiness, openness, fair dealing, creativity, enterprise and community.
In today's highly competitive global media market, BBC World Service is placing a high priority on exploring new distribution outlets to improve reception quality.
As the communications industry increasingly exploits digital technology, new interactive services are being developed for the digital age to supplement the traditional dependence on short wave for international broadcasting.
BBC World Service is now rapidly expanding availability on FM, AM and new digital distribution platforms which are having a particular impact in reaching audiences in major conurbations and developed markets.
BBC World Service is also becoming a multimedia broadcaster and content provider through the internet, offering a combination of audio, video, text and graphics in key languages
BBC World Service has recently launched an Arabic television service and plans to launch a Persian television service later this year.