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Annual Review 2006/07


A Year in Review - Connecting with Audiences

Reaching out to listeners

"We have created a contemporary BBC FM sound, one that connects with the listeners of today."

In India, there were reportedly 130 million mobile phone subscribers by the end of 2006. By 2010 it is predicted there will be 310 million. But not everyone spends their time making phone calls. Many are listening to the radio. Even the cheaper mobile phone handsets have FM built in. For a lot of young people, a radio now means just one device - a mobile phone.

BBC World Service made a breakthrough in reaching the growing FM market with the launch of a new service in co-operation with BBC Worldwide and the Indian media group Mid-Day. BBC Hindi produces up to 14 bulletins or 'modules' a day for the joint venture FM station, Radio One. The modules cover business, entertainment and sport. Launched in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, the service is being extended to five more cities in 2007 and it is hoped to add international news when the authorities permit.

'We have created a contemporary BBC FM sound for India, one that connects with the listeners of today,' says Ruxandra Obreja, Controller of Business Development. 'What is amazing is how many people are now listening to the radio through their mobiles and there will be a lot of young people whose first experience of the BBC will be these FM modules on Radio One FM.'

In India, Radio One's FM listeners can hear a new weekly interview show featuring Indian politicians, artists, sports personalities and Bollywood stars, interspersed with their favourite songs. The programme is also available across India on BBC Hindi's shortwave service, still by far the mainstay of rural audiences, which grew by two million over the year to 17 million a week.

Fifty per cent of BBC Hindi output is now produced in Delhi instead of London, and a similar move is taking place in other key markets in the region and worldwide. 'There is a big push towards getting closer to audiences through our new bureaux in places like Delhi, Karachi and Islamabad,' says Behrouz Afagh, Head of Asia and Pacific Region. 'We are moving more of our programme production and newsgathering there. It makes a lot of sense because our journalists can see what is going on and programmes become more editorially rooted as a result.'

Tailoring output
The idea of creating new and interesting formats for local markets is one of the ways BBC World Service is connecting with contemporary audiences all around the world. Building on the foundation of the BBC's journalism and programme making, marketing and business development are raising awareness of what the BBC has to offer and securing the partnership deals upon which future audiences depend.

'Through developments like this we are starting to use audio and video in ways that consumers want them, whether it is on mobiles or online,' says Ruxandra Obreja. 'We are training multimedia teams so we can take the same content and do deals with FM stations, direct-to-home cable companies, mobile operators and aggregators.'

English programme-makers are increasingly tailoring output to meet the needs of FM broadcasting partners, reflecting both the needs of audiences and the changing media landscape. Specially produced sports coverage is in demand. 'We have been introducing new sports modules for our partner RayPower in Nigeria and new shorter sports programmes for partners in Kenya, as well as producing a customised sports network for WorldSpace satellite radio in India,' says Andrew Caspari, Senior Commissioning Editor.

There is a big push towards getting closer to audiences through our new bureaux in places like Delhi, Karachi and Islamabad

Extending the BBC's network of FM transmitters and partnerships is crucial to maintain audiences in many parts of the world where shortwave is inevitably declining. By February 2007, BBC World Service programmes could be heard on FM in 150 capital cities. Major advances included the establishment of 24-hour FM relays in the Gaza Strip and new FM services in Juba in Sudan, Mogadishu in Somalia and Nouakchott in Mauritania - a first in North Africa.
'We have gone to some very difficult markets this year, where news is really needed and appreciated,' says Ruxandra Obreja. 'All these places either suffer serious instability or they've had important elections, like Mauritania.'

The profile of the Hindi service in its rural heartland was raised by one of BBC World Service's roadshows, which took programme-makers to meet local people. BBC Hindi teams travelled to 14 towns across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkand, engaging audiences with lively debates broadcast live on the BBC, together with other activities, including street theatre and website demonstrations.
'Roadshows give us the opportunity to introduce the human face of the BBC to people who may never have seen one of our presenters,' says Alan Booth, Controller, Marketing Communications and Audiences. 'We can reach tens of thousands of people relatively easily and carry our message into the heartlands of BBC audiences around the world.'

BBC World Service took part in the BBC's podcasting trial, reaching new audiences with audio mp3 downloads of documentaries, World Today Select -the best of The World Today in 15 minutes - and five-minute bulletins all available on podcast. A major redevelopment of the BBC World Service website,, is now underway and will make it more user friendly so that people will be able to access content when and where they want it. 'We will be a broadcaster for a long time to come but we will also be delivering our programmes and our content any way the audience can access them,' says Phil Harding, Director of English Networks and News. 'It's a familiar cry - any place, any time, anywhere.'

New technology for mobile users gives one click access to BBC online content in four languages - English, Arabic, Russian and Spanish - which can then be read offline. The development is designed to give quick, easy and low-cost access to mobile users who will be able to benefit from the internet without a PC.

Photo montage: Indian Radio One programme advert; BBC Arabic website screenshot; Indian female holding roadshow advert postcard; BBC podcast link screenshot










BBC - Many voices, one world

A year in review
Connecting with Audiences
Many voices, one world
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