BBC to Propose World Service Expansion, Including News Service for Ethiopia and Eritrea



The BBC is to propose an expansion of the World Service – including its first radio broadcasts to North Korea – as it sets out plans for its own future.
The BBC is to propose an expansion of the World Service – including its first radio broadcasts to North Korea – as it sets out plans for its own future.
A children’s iPlayer and a pool of 100 local reporters who would share work with newspapers are also planned.
Director general Tony Hall will say the aim is to turn the BBC into “an open platform for British creativity”.
The BBC is laying out its plans as part of negotiations with the government ahead of charter renewal in 2016.

‘Polar opposite’

The government launched a consultation on the BBC’s Royal Charter, which sets out the purpose of the BBC and how it will be governed, in July, promising to ask “hard questions” about the corporation’s size and ambition.
As part of that process the BBC is setting out its own plans which include:
  • A pool of reporters to provide impartial reporting on councils and public services that could be used by both the BBC and other local news outlets
  • A hub for data journalism, in partnership with a leading university, that would make BBC expertise in data journalism available to local newsgroups
  • a children’s-only iPlayer – iPlay – featuring not just television programs but blogs, podcasts, games and educational tools is another of the proposals
  • Either a satellite TV service for Russian speakers or a bigger digital presence on platforms such as YouTube and its Russian equivalent, Rutube
  • A daily news program for North Korea, broadcast on short wave radio
  • The BBC Arabic Service is to offer more regional content, with increased coverage of North Africa and the Middle East
  • A news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short wave
Another new venture is expected to link up BBC programs with material from external partners, such as the Tate, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Science Museum – from where Lord Hall will make his announcement on Monday.
He will say: “We will strengthen the things people love about the BBC while making them fit for the new age.
“Let me be clear, an open BBC is a million miles away from an expansionist ambition. Indeed it is the polar opposite.
“It comes from the desire to partner and share. It comes from the recognition that technology gives us the opportunity to do things very differently.”

Lord Hall is unlikely to detail how the corporation will “slim down” in the face of further funding cuts – despite the government recently ordering the BBC to cover the £600 million cost of providing free television licenses for over-75s.
The corporation also took on the cost of the World Service last year, as part of the 2010 license fee settlement.
However, the BBC is expected to ask the government for money to fund the world services – which it will match with funds raised by commercial enterprises such as BBC World News. License fee income will not be used.
The World Service proposals are part of an ongoing battle against state-sponsored news organizations such as Al-Jazeera, China Central Television (CCTV) and RT (previously Russia Today), which command huge resources and now broadcast to viewers in the UK.
The expansion was signaled earlier this year in the BBC’s Future Of News report, which warned: “In many parts of the world, there is not more free expression but less. The need for the BBC World Service… to provide independent, reliable information to people who sorely need it is growing.”
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