BBC World Service delivered outstanding journalism on radio, television, online and mobile platforms, bringing a wider perspective to audiences in closer collaboration with other parts of BBC Global News
BBC Global News
BBC World Service is part of an integrated international news and information division. BBC Global News was formally established on 1 December 2002 and comprises BBC World Service, BBC World News, the BBC's international news online services, BBC Monitoring and BBC World Service Trust.
This is my first overview of the year as Director of BBC World Service. It is a privilege to assume responsibility for the world's most respected international news organisation and BBC Global News at such a crucial point in its long and remarkable history.
The enduring respect and affection people have for BBC World Service was brought home to me when I visited India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya and Angola during the year. The challenge lies in making the changes necessary to retain our reputation for the future at a time of profound economic, social and technological change.
Global audience measurement reveals that the inevitable decline in short wave listening has gathered pace, as predicted. The impact proved particularly significant in India and Bangladesh. The net result was a fall in BBC World Service's global weekly audience from the 2009 peak of 188 million to 180 million, although the BBC World Service English audience is broadly level at just under 40 million.
And, overall, the total radio, television and online audience for BBC Global News is up from 238 million to 241 million.
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At the leading edge
The headline figures only tell part of the story, however. The strategic move into Arabic and Persian television channels has been vindicated, although accurate measurement is difficult in countries such as Iran, where contact with the BBC is a prohibited activity.
BBC Arabic's 24-hour television channel has achieved high professional standards and is now placing more emphasis on creative ways of engaging audiences and standing out in a crowded market.
We are only beginning to appreciate the full impact of our journalism on local media and even on the course of events
Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC World Service
Mobile phone and internet development is also making an increasingly important contribution. There has been encouraging take up of new mobile phone applications in Hausa and Swahili, where the BBC is at the leading edge of developments.
To gauge BBC World Service's wider effectiveness, it is essential to take into account its role in raising editorial standards. We are only beginning to appreciate the full impact of our journalism on local media and even on the course of events. When I was in Kenya, for example, I saw how newspapers trusted BBC Swahili to verify reports of witness intimidation.
In Nigeria, President Umaru Yar'Adua's exclusive interview for BBC Hausa shortly before his death played a central role in the country's constitutional debate. After months of speculation about his health, he spoke to the BBC because it symbolised credibility. It's this kind of exclusive interview which reinforces our impact – we get the interviews that others can only hope for and they make headlines across the globe.
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Inspiring new generations
We are also working to raise standards through both BBC World Service and BBC World Service Trust training programmes, developing and inspiring new generations of journalists and instilling values of independent journalism in other media organisations around the world.
Initiatives include journalism training for online bloggers in Syria, phone-in training for rural stations in Uganda and radio training in Sudan ahead of the country's first election in 24 years.
BBC World Service stands out from other international broadcasters through its ability to present a truly global point of view. In covering Afghanistan, for example, we can do more than embed journalists with the armed forces.
BBC reporter Hugh Sykes interviewing two Pashtun farmers in Afghanistan
Our teams can talk to Afghan villagers, telling international and UK audiences what they think about the issues that affect them. The investigation into fraud and corruption in Afghanistan's general election was one of the year's outstanding pieces of journalism.
We are determined to harness the contribution of every language service to the full, sharing content and expertise more effectively with all the BBC's global media platforms and also with UK audiences.
During the year we made important progress in ensuring contributors have the right skills and news contacts to access the English output, and a new video hub enables all language services to exchange video content.
As a result, BBC World Service journalism achieved greater exposure across the BBC, combining efficient use of resources with greater depth and insight to our news programmes.
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Collaboration across BBC Global News
The reorganisation of BBC Global News announced in March 2010 is an important step in preparation for the move to the BBC's multimedia news centre in London W1 in 2012. It integrates senior editorial roles where possible whilst retaining audience brands and accountability mechanisms as necessary.
Collaboration across BBC Global News ensures we can share language service content and expertise more effectively with all the BBC's global and UK media platforms.
We are determined to harness the contribution of every language service to the full, sharing content and expertise more effectively with all the BBC’s global media platforms and also with UK audiences
Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC World Service
The outcome will be more content like the SuperPower season, which explored the power of the world wide web, one of the programme highlights of the year.
BBC World Service English joined forces with the BBC World News television channel, click
bbc.com and our language services to bring a range of stories and perspectives, including fascinating insights from Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria.
Sharing content made an outstanding difference throughout the bitterly contested re-election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its aftermath.
Within months of its launch, BBC Persian television was regularly contributing to BBC news channels for the UK and around the world. For audiences in Iran, BBC Persian's multimedia service provided impartial news, an alternative perspective and a forum for debate.
BBC International Development Correspondent Mark Doyle interviewing Haiti President Rene Preval shortly after the country’s devastating earthquake.
A significant aspect of its appeal included non-news content – music, cultural and interactive programming – giving people an insight into Iran's relationship with the wider world and how its future might be.
The advantages of increased collaboration were also apparent in our outstanding coverage of the earthquake in Haiti. The international teams united against the odds, not only to cover the news and bring lifeline programming, but to extend FM transmission and even launch a Creole language service on air through those crucial early days. A true testament to what we can achieve when we work as one.
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The volume of videos, text messages and emails that BBC Persian received demonstrated another of the year's key themes. Video sharing and social media have grown dramatically in importance, both as a journalistic source and a way of distributing content.
BBC programme-makers have had to adapt. They must ensure that information from social media networks is authenticated and validated, and interactive programmes reflect a range of views.
On the distribution side, many English programmes and language services have set up Facebook sites and Twitter feeds which are providing links to news stories.
BBC World Service will be a standard setter in the new platforms and the new spaces, just as it has over the years in radio. The BBC global news podcast is the BBC's most successful, with around two million downloads a month.
Our interactive content on radio, television, online and mobile applies the same high standards, ensuring that people with opposing views can disagree with each other, but we hold the ring in a rational and courteous way.
Our aspiration is to have more television programming and more video that is available on a variety of platforms, including online.
BBC presenter Ros Atkins hosts World Have Your Say in Miami, US , following the death of singer Michael Jackson
In an extremely tough financial climate, with continued uncertainty over future public spending plans, BBC World Service maintained its strong track record of achieving efficiency and cost-saving targets.
The BBC World Service Choices programme involved staff in establishing future priorities and savings opportunities. We are ready to move fast and flexibly when the funding outcome is known.
The breadth and depth of expertise that I have found at BBC World Service is remarkable. Never before have I worked with such an extraordinary, diverse and passionate group of people, bringing together so many different cultures, nationalities and perspectives.
I am grateful to them all and would also particularly like to thank Nigel Chapman, former Director of BBC World Service, and Richard Sambrook, former Director of BBC Global News, for the legacy they left to build upon.
BBC World Service is an enduring gift to the world. Over the decades, the UK has given sustained support to the principle of news with guaranteed editorial independence. I am confident that we shall rise to the challenge of upholding those precious values in the very different media environment of the future.
Peter Horrocks became Director of BBC World Service in April 2009. He assumed the overall responsibility as Director of BBC Global News in February 2010.
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