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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC's international news services attract record global audience despite short wave radio losses of 20 million

The BBC attracts a record weekly global audience of 241 million people to its international news services like BBC World Service and the BBC World News television channel, according to independent surveys. This is up three million on last year's overall audience estimate.

However, the multimedia BBC World Service lost 20 million short wave radio listeners during the year; reflecting the increasing global decline of the medium.

But during the year BBC World Service attracted around nine million new viewers to its television, online and mobile services; in addition to new listeners to BBC radio programmes through local FM and medium wave radio partner stations in a number of countries.

BBC Global News Director, Peter Horrocks, said: "BBC Global News's record audience demonstrates that people come to us for journalism that is challenging and asks difficult questions, yet respects different points of view and actively encourages debate.

"The figures also show the success of our multimedia strategy and investments for global audiences. But the continued dramatic decline in short wave listening shows that those audiences are rapidly changing the way they access international news. Unless BBC World Service can accelerate its response to those changes, it will face a rapid deterioration of its impact as other technologies become more prominent in international media markets."

BBC World Service

BBC World Service drew an overall weekly multimedia audience of 180 million across television, radio, online and mobiles. This is eight million down on last year.

The audience losses were mainly due to a sharp overall decline in short wave radio listening during the year. Radio audience losses were particularly dramatic in Bangladesh (-7 million), India (-8.2m), and Nigeria (-2.9 m).

However, there were significant radio audience gains in Tanzania (+1.4m), and the US (+ 600,000), mainly through BBC programmes being used on local FM and medium wave radio partner stations.

The multimedia BBC Arabic service attracted an audience of 22 million a week, including 12 million watching BBC Arabic television.

The BBC Persian multimedia news and information service was hampered by the jamming of its newly launched TV satellite service and the continued blocking of its online service by the Iranian authorities. However, in a hostile environment for research, the independent surveys indicated audiences of 3.4 million, including 3.1 million watching BBC Persian television in Iran.

Together the channels contributed a 72% increase in the estimated audience of BBC World Service's non-English television services.

BBC World Service continued to have strong impact in Afghanistan, where BBC audiences are 10 million; and in Iraq where the BBC reaches 4.5 million people each week. In Burma, the BBC now reaches 8.5 million listeners, up 1.4 million on the last survey.

BBC's commercial international news services

BBC World News and – the BBC commercial international television and online news services – attracted a combined global audience of 83 million.

BBC World News has a weekly audience of 71 million.

The news, weather and sport sections of the BBC's international commercial site,, increased to more than 17.2 million unique users every week.

It also attracted more than 1.1million unique users in February 2010 accessing mobile news, weather and sport content from BBC Global News every week. By April, this had increased to 1.5 million unique users every week. There has been an increase of 120% in page impressions in the last year. Mobile traffic to news pages alone on the mobile site increased tenfold.

Notes to Editors

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 its weekly audience of 180 million globally, including shortwave, AM, FM, digital satellite and cable channels. Its news sites, which received 7.3 million weekly visitors in March 2010, include audio and video content and offer opportunities to join the global debate. 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. For more information, visit For a weekly alert about BBC World Service programmes, sign up for the BBC World Agenda e-guide at

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 71 million viewers a week, is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and reaches 303 million households and more than 1.8 million hotel rooms. The channel's content is also available on 81 cruise ships, 46 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. This year's figure incorporates new data from 25 countries – some 57% 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 Publicity

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