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Annual Review 2002/2003
 
 
Chairman's introduction
A beacon of independence
Chairman Gavyn Davies
 
In December 2002, BBC World Service celebrated its 70th birthday with a global concert across five continents and a 14-hour broadcast that linked some 50 locations around the globe
 
They were part of a season of special programmes of considerable range and ambition. They showed that the BBC still has the capacity to fulfil a powerful role on the world stage, just as it has from its birth in 1932.
 
This has been a momentous year for international broadcasting. The war in Iraq has meant that global news services have never been more prominent or important. But the war also demonstrated that while the world is connected technologically, it is far from connected in terms of mutual understanding.
 
This globalised world increases the scale of international business and the specialisation of trade which could dramatically improve the standard of living of all the world’s citizens. But it also increases the speed of social change, the potential for a rapid spread of bigotry and other bad ideas, and the impact with which cultures can collide.
 


Fostering mutual understanding across international borders and cultural divides must be a key way forward.
 
The global news service of the BBC is one of only a few organisations in the world well positioned to make a contribution to this healing process.
 
The challenge for BBC World Service is to make sense of what seems a confusing and contradictory world, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas across cultural, linguistic and national boundaries. If the service can continue to contribute in these crucial areas, it will be worth the cost, many times over.
 
During the Iraq war, the BBC Arabic Service began a new daily debate programme, Nuqtat Hewar. It offered a forum for radio listeners and online users to exchange opinions – a unique offer across the Arab world.
 
The programme has received thousands of emails and texts every day, allowing major global leaders, local politicians and ordinary Arabs to join together. This type of debate can really help to achieve greater understanding, openness and dialogue.
 
Listener, Iraq “All the Iraqis, even those who defend Saddam, know the extent of this sadistic regime…” Listener, Kuwait
 
“I do not support Blair, Bush or this war, but I can rely on the World Service to bring the truth.” Listener, Iraq
 
Excerpts from calls taken on the Arabic interactive programme Nuqtat Hewar

This is why in December 2002 we brought together our international services across radio, television and online, under the umbrella of the new BBC World Service & Global News Division led by Mark Byford.
 
The division comprises World Service radio, our international television channel, BBC World, and the BBC’s international online services.
 
These services are available on three different platforms, but all share the same values of independence, impartiality, quality, accuracy, breadth and depth of agenda, expertise and eyewitness reportage.
 
With better co-ordination across all these services and under a strict fair-trading framework, we will maximise our potential editorially and achieve greater impact for the BBC brand among audiences around the world. By so doing, we will bring credit to Britain.
 

 
Gavyn Davies
BBC Chairman

Chairman's introduction
 
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