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 worlds 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
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
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
All the Iraqis, even those who defend Saddam, know the extent of this sadistic regime
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 BBCs 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
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.