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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC's international news services attract record global audience of 238 million

The BBC's Global News division attracts a record weekly global audience of 238 million people to its international news services including BBC World Service and the BBC World News television channel, according to independent surveys. Last year's audience totalled 233 million.

BBC World Service attracted a record weekly audience of 188 million.

This figure was boosted by its new BBC Arabic television channel but masked an overall decline in radio listening which was down five million to 177 million in 2008/9.

However, despite this loss, BBC World Service remains the world's most popular international radio broadcaster.

The largest overseas audiences for BBC news, across all platforms, are in Nigeria (26.0m), USA (24.1m) and India (22.2m).

The biggest increases in the BBC's global audience estimate came from Arab-speaking countries such as Saudi Arabia (+1.9m), Egypt (+1.3m), and Syria (+1.0m), and newly surveyed markets like Niger (+2.4 million), Liberia (+1.1m) and Guinea (+1.4m).

However, radio audiences in Iran dropped by 1.6 million due to a decline in shortwave listening there and the cutting of medium wave transmissions.

BBC Persian launched a television channel last January to reflect changing media demands by Farsi-speaking audiences in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Sri Lankan radio audiences dropped by 1.5 million after the BBC withdrew FM broadcasts there following government interference with the BBC's FM broadcasts in the Sinhala and Tamil languages.

There were also losses in Nigeria (-1.5m) due to increased local competition.

UK listening to BBC World Service hit record numbers with 1.5 million weekly domestic listeners in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 9%.

Radio audiences in the USA also grew to a record six million.

Surveys of key Arabic-speaking markets indicated an audience of eight million weekly viewers for the new BBC Arabic television channel across those specific markets. A more comprehensive figure for the channel will be made available when other countries in the region are surveyed.

BBC World News – the BBC's commercially funded international English language news and information channel – can now be received in 292 million homes, attracting 74 million viewers a week.

Major development and enhancement of the BBC's international-facing news sites and mobile phone offer was rewarded with a record 16 million unique online users, a 27% increase on last year.

BBC Global News Director Richard Sambrook said: "In a year when international radio listening to the BBC actually went down marginally, record overall global audiences demonstrate the success of our multimedia strategy and investments.

"People come to the BBC's international news services for journalism that is challenging and asks difficult questions, yet respects different points of view and actively encourages debate.

"Increasingly, audiences want access at a time and place that suits them."

Notes to Editors

BBC Global News brings together BBC World Service – funded by grant-in-aid by the UK Government; the commercially funded BBC World News television channel and the BBC's international-facing online news services in English; BBC Monitoring – which is funded by stakeholders led by the Cabinet Office and a range of public and private clients; and BBC World Service Trust – the BBC's international development charity which uses donor funding. No licence fee funds are used in any of these operations.

BBC World Service is an international multimedia broadcaster delivering 32 language and regional services, including: Albanian, Arabic, Azeri, Bengali, Burmese, Cantonese, English, English for Africa, English for the Caribbean, French for Africa , Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Kinyarwanda/Kirundi, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Mandarin, Nepali, Pashto, Persian, Portuguese for Africa, Portuguese for Brazil, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Somali, Spanish for Latin America, Swahili, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, and Vietnamese. It uses multiple platforms to reach 188 million users globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. It has around 2,000 partner radio stations which take BBC content, and numerous partnerships supplying content to mobile phones and other wireless handheld devices. Its news sites include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. For more information, visit To find out more about the BBC's English language offer and subscribe to a free e-newsletter, visit

BBC World News, the BBC's commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World News Ltd, a member of the BBC's commercial group of companies. BBC World News attracts 74 million viewers a week, is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and reaches 292 million households and more than 1.7 million hotel rooms. The channel's content is also available on 80 cruise ships, 42 airlines, 36 mobile phone networks and a number of major online platforms including For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit

The new BBC World Service global audience estimate is derived from a comprehensive programme of independent audience research over a four-year cycle. This year's figure incorporates new data from 28 countries – some 53% of this year's audience.

The BBC World News audience figure is compiled from multiple surveys (syndicated, omnibus and specifically commissioned) from over 100 countries. The surveys are carried out by independent market research groups and comply with international standards of audience research.

BBC World Service International Publicity

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