This has been a year of great change for BBC
World Service – change driven by the pressing
need to respond rapidly and imaginatively to major
shifts in technology, audience and geopolitics.These
have prompted BBC World Service to undertake
one of the biggest transformations in its history.
Ten language services have been closed and
resources moved into the launch of an Arabiclanguage
television service and increased investment
in on-demand services and FM radio distribution.
My fellow BBC Governors and I have supported this
programme of sweeping change as the appropriate
response to the great challenges faced by BBC
World Service. But no organisational change on this
scale is without pain.The closure of the language
services – Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek,
Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Thai –
has meant personal disruption for many individuals.
We thank the staff of those services sincerely for
their contribution to creating and maintaining the
BBC’s formidable international reputation, and for
decades of distinguished broadcasting.
Today, BBC World Service remains the cornerstone
of the BBC’s global reputation.The position it has
built as the best-known and most-respected voice
in international broadcasting brings great esteem to
the UK. It was pleasing to see this acknowledged in
Lord Carter’s review of the UK’s public diplomacy,
which also underlined the critical role that the
editorial independence of BBC World Service plays
in creating that reputation.
During the year I chaired the Governors’ BBC World
Service and Global News Consultative Group.
This puts BBC World Service output under rigorous
independent examination. A summary of our
deliberations is included in this review. Overall the
results were positive. BBC World Service reflects the
highest standards in global news broadcasting and we
were pleased to be reassured that it continues to be
considered authoritative, reliable and an excellent
source of detailed news and information, especially
on global affairs.There were useful pieces of advice
for BBC World Service to bear in mind. But the
research demonstrated that, in the services
examined, BBC World Service is maintaining its
reputation for impartiality and objectivity.
Sir Andrew Burns
BBC International Governor