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BBC World Service (BBCWS)

The UK's Voice around the World

The BBC World Service is recognised around the world for its impartiality and unbiased reporting; its brand promotes respect for the UK abroad. It is funded primarily through grant-in-aid from the FCO (£225m pa in 2004-05) but has complete editorial independence. It continues to maintain its position as the world's leading broadcaster, transmitting programmes in English and 42 other languages to 146 million listeners per week. The World Service is received on FM in 139 capital cities.

The Government awarded the BBC World Service an additional £19.5 million in grant in aid for 2005-2008. This will be channelled into expanding FM worldwide and strengthening the BBC World Service's impact in the Islamic world.

Use of the BBC World Service's award-winning online service has grown rapidly with major multimedia sites in Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. In 2004 video conferencing was used by BBCUrdu to allow families separated by the Line of Control dividing Kashmir to communicate for the first time in years. The online sites have had a significant impact in the Islamic world. The Islam and the West website involved Islamic audiences in discussions on key issues.

The BBC World Service coverage of news events in the past year was far and wide, from establishing an FM transmitter in Baghdad shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein, to breaking the news story of the Darfur crisis.

In Iraq, the BBC World Service expanded its FM presence on the ground to seven cities throughout Iraq, broadcasting in Arabic, with additional English programming in Baghdad and Basra. The Arabic Service has a network of reporters across Iraq.

In Darfur, the World Service continued to give the crisis prominent and sustained coverage, sending into Darfur reporters to interview the Sudanese government, opposition MPs and people on the ground. The World Service also ran a special interactive Talking Point programme on radio and online.

BBCWS responded to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster with one of the largest news efforts it has ever undertaken. Programmes and many language services were extended to bring the latest information to listeners in the stricken areas. Within hours of the disaster, online sites were acting as channels of communication for displaced people and their relatives. Notice boards of missing people were launched in India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia. Over two million people accessed these pages.


BBC World Service FCO/BBC World Service Broadcasting Agreement 2002  (PDF, 16KB) FCO/BBC World Service Financial Memorandum  (PDF, 42KB)