Annual Review 2007/2008

A year in review - BBC Global News

The bigger picture

Matt Price reporting for BBC World News

BBC World Service forms part of the BBC's Global News division, which brings together all the BBC's international news services, both publicly and commercially funded, on radio, television, online and mobile media. The aim is to maximise the BBC's impact in converging media markets and obtain the best value from both Grant-in-Aid and commercial funding.

In 2007, the combined audience was stable at 233 million a week, of whom 78 million watched the commercially funded international news and information television channel, BBC World News, and 13 million used the BBC's international-facing online services. Many people used more than one service.

"We are moving into multimedia provision for international news rather than resting primarily on radio, especially shortwave radio, as we have in the past," says Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News. "So it is about how we pull together our various strengths: on radio, which still provides a very large audience, but also on television and the internet, increasingly with video content as well. It is about moving all of our international news provision into a more coherent multimedia operation."

With the development of BBC Arabic into a multimedia service, combining radio, television and online, and the forthcoming multimedia service in Persian, BBC World Service is playing a central role in the development of the BBC's Global News strategy.

"BBC World Service is part of the bigger picture – we no longer look at what we do in isolation," explains Director Nigel Chapman. "These developments are important as they show how we are modernising our services for people in the right way for each market. The international audience perception is simply of news from the BBC across all platforms and languages."

Underpinning all international news services is the BBC's reputation for trust and objectivity, which remains strong, according to independent surveys. Results show that the combined BBC international news services outperformed both CNN International and international radio competitors when audiences were asked about these values in almost all major markets.

The BBC's international-facing online sites attracted a record 808.2 million page impressions in March 2008, up from 763 million a year earlier. In November 2007 BBC World Service ceased to contribute to the cost of the BBC's international-facing English website,, and the news site The new sites are now commercially funded through BBC Worldwide and editorially controlled by BBC Global News. Following approval of the arrangements by the BBC Trust, international users now see advertising on selected pages.

"It is about moving all of our international news provision into a more coherent multimedia operation."

"The BBC website has a large number of international users and advertising seems to be the obvious way for them to contribute to the costs of the site," explains Richard Sambrook. "In addition, profits from the site will be reinvested in the BBC's international journalism and we believe this will enable us to more strongly develop the site for international users."

BBC Monitoring provides analysis of international media and its usage. The service monitors more than 3,000 sources, providing valuable and reliable insights and coverage to BBC news services as well as to external clients. BBC Monitoring and BBC World Service Trust complete the BBC Global News line-up.

Putting news first on TV

BBC World News (formerly BBC World), the BBC's commercial international news and information channel, attracted a global audience of 78 million viewers, up from 76 million the previous year. By March 2008 it was available in more than 274 million homes around the world, 1.4 million hotel rooms, on 50 cruise liners, 38 airlines, 32 mobile phone platforms and online. In May 2007, a new, dedicated channel was launched on the video sharing site YouTube. The service offers 30 news clips a day. High levels of trust for BBC World News were revealed in a Media Brand Values survey among influential business professionals in three continents. Respondents placed BBC World News ahead of competitors Bloomberg, CNBC and CNN International in the categories of trust and influence.

Global insight

YouTube web page showing BBC World News channel content

Making BBC content available through external sites such as YouTube has helped build new audiences.

It was a year of significant change for BBC Monitoring, which reviews some 3,000 radio,TV, press, news agency and internet sources in 150 countries and 100 languages.The service provides an insight into global developments, focusing on political, economic and security news, information and comment. It is funded by a grant from the Cabinet Office, which is the sponsoring department and chairs the Governance Panel. In November 2007, it was announced that funding would increase to £25 million per annum over the next three years, an extra £1.6 million per year.This made it possible to go ahead with key investments in technology and infrastructure."BBC Monitoring sits at the nexus of the rapid changes that are now taking place in global media – changes brought about by a host of geopolitical, social and technological factors," says Director Chris Westcott. "Our ability to keep pace with ongoing developments is crucial if we are to provide the insight our stakeholders need to make sense of this changing world."