BBC: Taking Back their Gift to the World

For many millions of people around the world the World Service is the voice of Britain overseas. The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan described the World Service as quite possibly “Britain’s greatest gift to the World in the 20th Century”, and I see as Foreign Secretary the immense contribution it makes to how Britain is perceived internationally.  For 166 million listeners and viewers each week across the globe the World Service is a source of reliable and impartial information that transcends borders, regions and cultures.
one of our country’s most important sources of soft power, with an unparalleled ability to reach out across the globe.

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, celebrating the BBC World Service‘s 80th birthday early this year.

BBC External Services

Goodbye, External Services, …

By making these changes, we are achieving the savings required whilst crucially, ensuring our audiences continue to receive the best programming.

Peter Horrocks, BBC Global News director, quoted by the BBC in October this year.

The English short wave service will continue to all regions, but will be reduced from between seven and 19 hours per day, depending on region, to six hours per day across all regions.
[Arab and Middle-East English service cuts]
We estimate that the changes being announced today may result in a loss of up to 2.5 million listeners, an overall loss of 1% of the total Global News audience across all platforms. Any loss of audience is of course regrettable but we are not in a financial position to continue to distribute our services on all frequencies.

Peter Horrocks, in an e-mail to staff on October 25 this year.



» Stuff of the Past, April 2, 2011
» BBC drops Languages, Jan 28, 2011
» We all now speak English well enough, BBC, March 27, 1999
» Bruno Adler, Wikipedia, acc. 20121104


3 Responses to “BBC: Taking Back their Gift to the World”

  1. What a shame. And now that ROK is going to digital broadcasts the only softpower DPRK will receive will likely be underground DVDs, CCTV 4, Jilin TV and whatever stuff floats across the border. Austerity sucks.


  2. The high-quality spiritual nourishment provided elsewhere makes these cuts all the more humiliating, Roger.

    Cracks aside: the British public would probably oppose too much money being spent on soft power, while budgets are scarce at home. That’s short-sighted, though. I may not be the perfect example of an audience, but Canada went completely off my mindmap when Radio Canada International ended their German-language broadcasts, and I only remained a regular listener to the BBC World Service because they were available on shortwave – and even on medium wave. Once BBC Radio 4 close their longwave frequency (which is going to happen once they have run out of their last few spare parts), I won’t get regular updates about the UK anymore, either.

    It depends on peoples’ habits, of course. If I needed regular info about Britain, I’d turn to those websites. But to me, radio and internet are very different things. I listen to the radio while doing all kinds of other things, and I read and write on the internet. I believe the World Service will lose more listeners than they imagine – unless I’m a very rare type of listener.



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