The BBC’s international news services now reach over 256 million people each week, according to the broadcaster’s estimates. The number represents an increase of over 16 million people. BBC Global News includes BBC World News, the BBC news website, and the World Service – which now has a record weekly audience of 192 million people.
Peter Horrocks, director of Global News, said: “This is a milestone for the BBC, with more than a quarter of a billion people tuning in to radio, TV and digital services every week. Today’s figures shows there is a growing worldwide audience for impartial, trustworthy journalism.”
According to the BBC’s Global Audience Estimate figures for the past year, more than 41.5 million now watch BBC Arabic and BBC Persian TV services – up 90 per cent from 2011-12. Hindi language services also showed strong growth. The corporation said the increase in the Arabic services suggested that audience gained during the Arab uprising continues to see the BBC as a source of trusted news.
Horrocks said he was particularly proud that “the BBC’s Persian service has thrived during the last year despite censorship, deliberate jamming of satellites and the continued harassment of BBC journalists and their families.”
The figures also suggested that Nigeria was the biggest driver of mobile traffic, with visitors to mobile sites increasing by over 250 per cent.
Plans have for the running of the World Service when it comes under licence fee funding next year have also been released. The draft ‘Operating Licence’ was published by the BBC Trust yesterday, and is out for public consultation before it takes effect in April 2014.
Lord Williams, the BBC Trust’s international trustee said: “Licence-fee funding for the World Service has clear benefits for the BBC’s audiences here and around the world, as we bring the domestic and international reporting closer together and each can draw on the other’s specialist expertise. It also serves to underline the service’s independence from any national or commercial interest, which is so highly valued by audiences globally.”