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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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  • BBC World Service forms an integral part of BBC Global News – the division which manages all the BBC's international news services. BBC Global News also contains BBC World News – the international English-language news and information TV channel, the BBC's international-facing online news service bbc.com/news and the BBC World Service Trust, a registered charity that is funded separately from BBC World Service and uses media to aid development.
  • BBC World Service, BBC World News and the international-facing online news service, bbc.com/news – attract a combined record global weekly audience of over 233 million, with some people using more than one service.

BBC World Service facts

  • Broadcasting in 32 languages, BBC World Service aims to be a global hub for high quality information, communication and entertainment. It is the best known and most respected voice in international broadcasting.
  • Available on radio, online, and now on television including Arabic and Persian, BBC World Service aims to create a forum for the exchange of ideas across cultural, linguistic and national boundaries.
  • At least 182 million people around the world listen each week to BBC World Service's multilingual programmes which consist of news, information, education and entertainment.
  • Independent market research consistently shows that listeners respect BBC World Service for the accuracy, editorial independence and expertise of its journalism. It is the radio service most listened to by opinion formers around the world.
  • BBC World Service launched on 19 December 1932. Its role and contribution to the world have since been repeatedly endorsed by prominent world leaders. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, said in 1999, at the opening of the BBC's Washington DC news bureau: "BBC World Service is perhaps Britain's greatest gift to the world this century."
  • BBC World Service produces around 1,200 hours of programming a week; that's over 65,400 hours a year.
  • BBC World Service is now available in 152 capital cities on FM; that's around 75% of the global total.
  • BBC World Service online sites attracted a record 286 million page impressions in September 2008, compared to 189.8 million in March 2007 – an increase of 37%.

BBC World Service funding and independence

  • The BBC is established and operated under a Royal Charter to provide broadcast services in the UK and abroad.
  • The Charter and Agreement sets out the BBC's public purposes and explicitly guarantees editorial and managerial independence from the British Government.
  • The BBC is accountable to the BBC Trust – a group of 12 prominent and independent people from different parts of British society.
  • It is the BBC Trust's role to act as trustee for the public interest, at home and abroad. It oversees all BBC activities. The BBC Trust sets the Corporation's strategic direction and holds BBC management to account for its performance.
  • The BBC Trust's prime responsibility is to ensure that the BBC remains independent, resisting pressure and influence from all sources, including the British Government.
  • Just like the rest of the BBC, BBC World Service also operates under the BBC's Royal Charter and is accountable to the BBC Trust. BBC World Service's broadcasting costs are met by a separate parliamentary Grant-in-Aid through the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), totalling £265 million in 2008/9.
  • The British Government funds BBC World Service because it believes that the BBC's independent approach to journalism brings credit to Britain. This guarantee of independence is enshrined in the Broadcasting Agreement signed by the FCO and the BBC Trust.
  • The Government believes that the global provision of high-quality journalism – which strives to be accurate, impartial, editorially independent, and balanced with the widest possible range of views about an issue – projects Britain's values of trustworthiness, openness, fair dealing, creativity, enterprise and community. It believes this promotes interest in Britain around the world.
  • These goals are achievable because the BBC is independent from any form of editorial control from government.

BBC World Service Director, Nigel Chapman, says: "Whenever I go abroad, the first question I am always asked is how the World Service can be funded by the British Government and remain editorially independent, and not be the Government's mouthpiece as with many other broadcasters funded by taxation.

"Since BBC World Service's creation in 1932, successive British governments have recognised that an editorially independent BBC World Service – rooted in British values of trust, fairness and impartiality – reflects better on Britain than a system where the broadcasting organisation is set up to promote a particular government view. We have been established to truly be a World Service for the world."

He continues: "The only discussions I have with the British Government are about 'where' and 'how' we broadcast, not the 'what'. That is to say we discuss the countries we broadcast to, and the technological means by which we are available to audiences in those countries.

"These are legitimate discussions to have with the British Government in the context of deciding how we use our finite funding. But we never ever discuss our editorial content. The BBC's editorial independence is non-negotiable.

"Nobody gets on the BBC's airwaves unless there are legitimate editorial reasons. Both the BBC and the UK government are clear that the BBC is not there to promote the views of the British Government or any other government, interest group or individual. It is there to provide impartial and independent journalism which takes account of and reflects all the relevant points of view about an issue."

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