BBC World Service English launches new app for low cost news access

This simple app offers a cost effective and convenient way for people to listen to our programmes.Mary Hockaday, Controller, BBC World Service English
Date: 22.02.2019     Last updated: 22.02.2019 at 10.00
Category: World Service; News
‘Call to listen’ function offers access to BBC World Service in areas where mobile data is expensive or unavailable.

BBC World Service English has launched a brand new app to help people access news and radio programmes in areas where mobile data is expensive or internet coverage is limited.

Developed by BBC World Service and Zeno Media, the free app gives users in selected territories a choice in how they access content - either by using the ‘call-to-listen’ function, or by Wi-Fi and mobile data. The call-to-listen function is charged at the rate of a standard local call*, offering a cost-effective way to access the BBC World Service in areas where streaming or downloading content via the internet is expensive or difficult. However if users are able to take advantage of Wi-Fi or mobile data the app will also function and offer a more extended feature set.

The app can be accessed on mobile phones and is available globally (excluding-UK) through the Google Play and Apple iOS App stores. The call-to-listen function will be available in 35 countries initially, including Nigeria and Pakistan.

Mary Hockaday, Controller of BBC World Service English says: “BBC World Service English already has a weekly global reach of 79 million people, but we are keen to bring our impartial news and rich mix of programmes to new audiences who might live in areas where accessing the internet or mobile data is difficult or expensive. Young people around the world are increasingly using their mobile phones to access news and this simple app offers a cost effective and convenient way for people to listen to our programmes.”

The app has a simple ‘light touch’ design, making it easy to use as well as requiring a relatively small amount of data. The ‘call to listen’ button sits in the middle of the screen, and allows users in selected territories to call and listen to the live stream of BBC World Service English using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology.

When using Wi-Fi or mobile data the app also allows users to personalise their content so users can easily and quickly find the programmes they want to hear.

The BBC and Zeno Media have already launched similar audio apps for two of the BBC’s language services - Hausa and Somali. Zeno Media is a US-based company, building targeted, in-language phone services and apps for broadcasters.

Morris Berger, CEO of Zeno Media says: “We’re proud to expand on our relationship with the BBC World Service. This app is another cornerstone of our mission of reaching underserved audiences, and builds on our success with BBC News Somali and BBC News Hausa apps. We're thrilled with our partnership with the BBC and are excited to watch it flourish for many years to come.”

*A visual and audio prompt is given before the first phone call is made, to ensure listeners are aware of any costs they may incur. Users are recommended to check call charges with their service provider.