I felt very strongly the importance of the World Service as a beacon for independence, impartiality, journalistic freedom, quality and public service
I was interviewed for the post of BBC Chairman on 11 September 2001, less than an hour after I heard news of the events in New York which shook the world. Two weeks later, on my first
day in office, I immediately wanted to visit Bush House. A childhood in Zimbabwe and a long
career as an international economist have instilled in me a fundamental appreciation of what
the BBC means to people worldwide: for so many people around the globe, the BBC is the
World Service, pure and simple.
For so many people around the globe, the BBC is the
World Service, pure and simple.
On the day I took up my appointment as Chairman, I could think of no more important a place to be. The World Service was more important than ever before, and it faced
enormous challenges. It has risen to meet these challenges in magnificent fashion.
September 11th It's a strange sensation being that close to a terrible event yet not really believing it's actually happening. I was on the ground floor of the south tower and I felt the building shake – Stephen Evans, BBC North American Business Correspondent
While at Bush House that day I visited the Persian and Pashto teams and the main World Service newsroom, all still busy with special programming in the aftermath of the events of September 11th. I felt very strongly the importance of the World Service as a beacon for independence, impartiality, journalistic freedom, quality and public service.
The professionalism and courage of the World Service's editorial teams during this turbulent
year, often in the face of bitter attack from the enemies of free speech, has ensured that
high-quality news and current affairs programming has been available to a global audience of
around 150 million listeners on radio and online. That this reporting has received widespread
acclaim has further enhanced the World Service's profile in Britain and abroad. In a MORI
survey, 92% of MPs agreed that “BBC World Service brings significant benefit to Britain,”
while 93% of British Ambassadors and High Commissioners believed that it “enhances Britain's
image overseas.” I would like to extend my gratitude and praise to all World Service staff
for a year of remarkable achievement.
BBC World Service is the world's best-known and most-respected international radio
broadcaster. The global audience for English broadcasts remains at last year's record level
of 42 million listeners and there have been significant increases in other areas. Online usage,
too, has exceeded targets almost doubling its usage in the past year.
I would like to thank the members of the Governors' Consultative Group for providing the World Service Management Board with independent, external advice on its output. The Group
reported to the Board that there has been “striking evidence of the World Service's unique
positioning, authority and trustworthiness in exceptional circumstances.” There can be no doubt
that this has been an extraordinary period in which BBC World Service consolidated its role
as the world's reference point.