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Bbc World Service Documentaries Assignment Definition

  • Lyse Doucet

    A BBC TV and radio anchor and correspondent, Lyse Doucet often anchors special news coverage from around the world. She interviews world leaders such as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and covers breaking stories such as the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami on India and Indonesia.

  • Julian Marshall

    Julian has been presenting Newshour for quarter of a century! His BBC career began in the mid-seventies with the World Service's Africa division when he reported from all over the continent at a time of considerable political turbulence. And he likes to draw on that background as a Newshour presenter. Along the way he's picked up four Sony gold medals either individually or as part of the team. He's most proud of his award for the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Married with four children Julian likes to relax with long distance walks on the west coast of Wales.

  • Dan DamonDan started out as a BBC radio technical operator before leaving to cover wars and revolutions in countries from Mongolia to Albana with a freelance news team that included his wife, a camera operator. He returned to the BBC as a reporter covering environmental, energy and human rights issues.

  • Jo Fidgen

    Jo Fidgen anchors BBC World Service programs, including rolling news coverage on stories including the Iraq war, the Beslan siege and the London bombings. She has been a reporter, producer and anchor on several BBC networks and edited a documentary series Learning to Solve the World's Problems.

  • Carrie Gracie

    Carrie Gracie is the BBC China Editor has been with BBC World Service for more than 30 years, starting out as a reporter in Beijing, taking a few years off to complete a degree in Mandarin Chinese before returning to the Beijing bureau.

  • Roger Hearing

    After starting out at the Birmingham Post newspaper, Roger was a BBC correspondent in South Asia, Southern Europe and East Africa for about 10 years before returning to the UK, reporting and anchoring mainly for the BBC World Service and BBC World TV.

  • Owen Bennet Jones

    A BBC anchor for almost 20 years, Owen Bennett-Jones was a BBC correspondent in Romania right after the revolution and covered Europe, Asia and the Middle East reporting on crises in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Owen also writes for UK newspapers such as The Guardian and Financial Times.

  • Fergus Nicoll

    Fergus Nicoll joined the BBC as a producer for the African Service before moving to reporting for BBC's Cairo Bureau. Following several years at BBC World TV, he returned to news-gathering as a World Affairs Correspondent, filing reports from Cameroon rainforests to Sarajevo refugee settlements.

  • Max Pearson

    Max has been a BBC World Service lead anchor for more than 20 years. He first worked on BBC radio but resigned to see the world after completing his post-graduate work in broadcast journalism. After traveling the Middle East, India, Pakistan and the Far East, the World Service is a natural for him.

  • Razia Iqbal

    Razia Iqbal is one of the main hosts of Newshour, the flagship current affairs programme of the BBC World service. She has worked for the BBC for twenty-five years. She began her career in the newsroom and was soon sent to Pakistan as a reporter. She was the BBC's arts correspondent for ten years and travelled all over the world covering cultural stories.

  • James Menendez

    James Menendez joined BBC Newshour as a regular anchor in 2012 having worked as a host, correspondent, and international producer for the BBC. He is also a regular anchor on BBC World News TV. James has also worked for the BBC as a world affairs producer, which included deployments to a range of countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kuwait between 2001 and 2003.

  • Jamie Commerasamy

    Jamie Commerasamy is a regular presenter of Newshour since 2010. Before that, James presented the BBC's daily European affairs programme, Europe Today. He is also a presenter on BBC World News TV. James has spent 15 years as a BBC correspondent, with postings in Washington, Paris, Warsaw and Moscow.

  • For the BBC television network, see BBC World News.

    "World Service" redirects here. For the albums, see World Service (Spear of Destiny album) and World Service (Delirious? album).

    The BBC World Service, the world's largest international broadcaster,[1] broadcasts radio and television news, speech and discussions in 29 languages[2] to many parts of the world on analogue and digital shortwave platforms, Internet streaming, podcasting, satellite, DAB, FM and MW relays. It was announced in November 2015 that the BBC World Service will start broadcasting in Pidgin and Yoruba in Nigeria, which will bring the total number of broadcast languages to 31.[3] In November 2016 the BBC announced again that it would start broadcasting in additional languages including Amharic and Igbo, in its biggest expansion since the 1940s.[4] In 2015 World Service reached an average of 210 million people a week (via TV, radio and online).[5] The English-language service broadcasts 24 hours a day.

    The World Service is funded by the United Kingdom's television licence fee, limited advertising[6] and the profits of BBC Worldwide Ltd.[7] The service is also guaranteed £289 million (allocated over a five-year period ending in 2020) from the UK government.[8] The World Service was funded for decades by grant-in-aid through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the British Government[9] until 1 April 2014.[10]

    As of 2017[update] the Director of the BBC World Service Group is Fran Unsworth.[11] The controller of BBC World Service, English, is Mary Hockaday.[12]


    The BBC World Service began in 1932 as the BBC Empire Service, broadcasting on shortwave[13] and aimed principally at English speakers across the British Empire. In his first Christmas Message, King George V stated that the service was intended for "men and women, so cut off by the snow, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them."[14] First hopes for the Empire Service were low. The Director General, Sir John Reith (later Lord Reith) said in the opening programme: "Don't expect too much in the early days; for some time we shall transmit comparatively simple programmes, to give the best chance of intelligible reception and provide evidence as to the type of material most suitable for the service in each zone. The programmes will neither be very interesting nor very good."[14][15] This address was read out five times as it was broadcast live to different parts of the world.

    On 3 January 1938, the first foreign-language service was launched in Arabic. Programmes in German started on 29 March 1938, and by the end of 1942 broadcasts were being made in all major European languages. As a result, the Empire Service was renamed the BBC Overseas Service in November 1939, and a dedicated BBC European Service was added in 1941. These were financed not from the domestic licence fee but from government grant-in-aid (from the Foreign Office budget), and known administratively as the External Services of the BBC.[citation needed]

    The External Services broadcast propaganda during the Second World War. Its French service Radio Londres also sent coded messages to the French Resistance. George Orwell broadcast many news bulletins on the Eastern Service during World War II.[16][17][18]

    By the end of the 1940s the number of broadcast languages had expanded and reception had improved, following the opening of a relay in modern-day Malaysia and of the Limassol relay, Cyprus, in 1957. On 1 May 1965 the service took its current name of BBC World Service[19] and expanded its reach with the opening of the Ascension Island relay in 1966, serving African audiences with a stronger signal and better reception, and the later relay on the Island of Masirah.

    In August 1985, the service went off air for the first time, when workers went on strike in protest at the British government's decision to ban a documentary featuring an interview with Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin.

    In recent years, financial pressures have decreased the number and type of services offered by the BBC. In countries with wide access to Internet services, there is less need for a radio station. Broadcasts in German ended in March 1999, after research showed that the majority of German listeners tuned into the English service. Broadcasts in Dutch, Finnish, French, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese and Malay were stopped for similar reasons.

    On 25 October 2005, it was announced that broadcasts in Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and Thai would end by March 2006, to finance the launch in 2007 of TV news services in Arabic and Persian.[20] Additionally, Romanian broadcasts ceased on 1 August 2008.[21]

    In January 2011, the closure of the Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa, Serbian, and English for the Caribbean services was announced. This reflected the financial situation the Corporation faced following transfer of responsibility for the Service from the Foreign Office, so that it would in future have been funded from within licence fee income. The Russian, Ukrainian, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, Vietnamese, Azeri, and Spanish for Cuba services ceased radio broadcasting, and the Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili, Kinyarwanda and Kirundi services ceased shortwave transmissions. The British government announced that the three Balkan countries had wide access to international information, and so broadcasts in the local languages had become unnecessary. 650 jobs went as part of the 16% budget cut.[22][23][24]

    In March 2011, The Guardian published details of an agreement between BBC Media Action, the BBC's broadcasting development charity, and the US State Department, in which the latter would provide a "low six-figure" sum to develop technology to stop jamming, and to educate people on how to avoid state censorship.[25] This led to allegations that these measures would encourage a pro-American bias within the Service and help America win the 'information war'.[26][27][28][29]


    The Service broadcasts from Broadcasting House in London, which is also headquarters of the Corporation. It is located in the newer parts of the building, which contains radio and television studios for use by the various language services. The building also contains an integrated newsroom used by the international World Service, the international television channel BBC World News, the domestic television and radio BBC News bulletins, the BBC News Channel and BBC Online.

    At its launch, the Service was located along with most radio output in Broadcasting House. However, following the explosion of a parachute mine nearby on 8 December 1940, it relocated to premises away from the likely target of Broadcasting House.[30] The Overseas service relocated to Oxford Street while the European service moved temporarily to the emergency broadcasting facilities at Maida Vale Studios.[30] The European services moved permanently into Bush House towards the end of 1940, completing the move in 1941, with the Overseas services joining them in 1958.[31] Bush House subsequently became the home of the BBC World Service and the building itself has gained a global reputation with the audience of the service.[31][32] However, the building was vacated in 2012 as a result of the Broadcasting House changes[31] and the end of the building's lease that year;[33] the first service to move was the Burmese Service on 11 March 2012[34] and the final broadcast from Bush House was a news bulletin broadcast at 11.00GMT on 12 July 2012.[33][35][36][37]

    The BBC World Service encompasses an English 24-hour global radio network and separate services in 27 other languages. News and information is available in these languages on the BBC website, with many having RSS feeds and specific versions for use on mobile devices, and some also offer email notification of stories. In addition to the English service, 18 of the language services broadcast a radio service using the short wave, AM or FM bands. These are also available to listen live or can be listened to later (usually for seven days) over the Internet and, in the case of seven language services, can be downloaded as podcasts. News is also available from the BBC News 'app', which is available from both iTunes and the Google Play Store.[38] In recent years, video content has also been used by the World Service: 16 language services show video reports on the website, and the Arabic and Persian services have their own television channels. TV is also used to broadcast the radio service, with local cable and satellite operators providing the English network (and occasionally some local language services) free to air. The English service is also available on digital radio in the UK and Europe.[39][40]

    Traditionally, the Service relied on shortwave broadcasts, because of their ability to overcome barriers of censorship, distance, and spectrum scarcity. The BBC has maintained a worldwide network of shortwave relay stations since the 1940s, mainly in former British colonies. These cross-border broadcasts have also been used in special circumstances for emergency messages to British subjects abroad, such as the advice to evacuate Jordan during the Black September incidents of September 1970. These facilities were privatised in 1997 as Merlin Communications, and later acquired and operated as part of a wider network for multiple broadcasters by VT Communications (now part of Babcock International Group). It is also common for BBC programmes to air on Voice of America or ORF transmitters, while their programming is relayed by a station located inside the UK. However, since the 1980s, satellite distribution has made it possible for local stations to relay BBC programmes.

    The World Service aims to be "the world's best-known and most-respected voice in international broadcasting, thereby bringing benefit to the UK, the BBC, and to audiences around the world",[41] while retaining a "balanced British view" of international developments.[42] Like the rest of the BBC, the World Service is a Crown corporation of the UK Government. For the financial year 2011-12, it received £255.2 million.[43] In addition to broadcasting, the Service also devotes resources to the BBC Learning English programme.[44]

    Criticism and controversy[edit]

    In 2011, a BBC Kyrgyz service newsreader and producer Arslan Koichiev resigned from his BBC post after revelations and claims of involvement in the Kyrgyzstan revolution of April 2010. He had been based in London, but often traveled to Kyrgyzstan and used BBC resources to agitate against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, appearing on a Kyrgyz radio station under a pseudonym with a disguised voice. One of the leaders of the revolution, Aliyasbek Alymkulov, named the producer as his mentor and claimed that they had discussed preparations for the revolution.[45] According to independent news agency Fergana News "Mr Alymkulov claimed that Koichiev arranged secret meetings "through the BBC" and organized the march at the presidential palace on the 7th of April, 2010" [46]


    See also: BBC Arabic, BBC Bangla, BBC Hausa, BBC Nepali, BBC Brasil, BBC Mundo, BBC Persian, BBC Tamil, BBC Punjabi, BBC Russian Service, BBC Somali Service, BBC Ukrainian, and BBC Urdu

    This table lists the various language services operated by the BBC World Service with start and closure dates, where known/applicable.[39][47][48]

    Radio programming in English[edit]

    The World Service in English mainly broadcasts news and analysis. The mainstays of the current schedule are Newsday, World Update, Newshour and The Newsroom. There are daily science programmes: Health Check, the technology programme Click and Science in Action. At weekends, some of the schedule is taken up by Sportsworld, which often includes live commentary of Premier League football matches. Other weekend sport shows include The Sports Hour and Stumped, a cricket programme co-produced with All India Radio and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. On Sundays the international, interdisciplinary discussion programme The Forum is broadcast. Outlook is a human interest programme presented by Matthew Bannister and Jo Fidgen, which was first broadcast in July 1966 and presented for more than thirty years by John Tidmarsh. Regular music programmes were reintroduced with the autumn schedule in 2015. Many programmes, particularly speech-based ones, are also available as podcasts.

    Previous radio programming in English[edit]

    Previous broadcasts include popular music programmes presented by John Peel and classical music programmes presented by Edward Greenfield. There have also been religious programmes, of mostly Anglican celebration and often from the Church of St. Martin in the Fields, weekly drama, English-language lessons, and comedy including Just A Minute. Other notable previous programmes include Letter from America by Alistair Cooke, which was broadcast for over fifty years; Off the Shelf with its daily reading from a novel, biography or history book; A Jolly Good Show, a music request programme presented by Dave Lee Travis; Waveguide, a radio reception guide; and The Merchant Navy Programme, a show for seafarers presented by Malcolm Billings.

    Since the late 1990s, the station has focussed more on news, with bulletins added every half-hour following the outbreak of the Iraq War.


    News is at the core of the scheduling. A five-minute bulletin is generally transmitted at one minute past the hour, with a two-minute summary on the half-hour. Sometimes these are separate from other programming, or alternatively made integral to the programme (such as with The Newsroom, Newshour or Newsday). As part of the BBC's policy for breaking news, the Service is the first to receive a full report for foreign news.[53]

    The station also publishes a Global News podcast twice a day (once on weekends), of around 30 minutes. The podcast is comparable to an edition of The Newsroom but without the five-minute reading of the news. Between 2007 and 2015 it was downloaded more than 300 million times.

    The BBC World Service in English employs a team of seven announcers and newsreaders.

    • David Austin
    • Julie Candler
    • Jonathan Izard
    • Stewart Macintosh
    • Marion Marshall
    • Sue Montgomery
    • Jerry Smit

    The following relief newsreaders can also be heard on the network:



    The BBC World Service website lists more than 80 FM stations in Africa which broadcast BBC content. The BBC World Service broadcasts a few hours in the morning and evening on shortwave to Africa from Ascension Island, South Africa, the UK, Madagascar and the UAE. Broadcasts have traditionally come from the UK, Cyprus, the large BBC Atlantic Relay Station on Ascension Island, and the smaller Lesotho Relay Station and Indian Ocean Relay Station on Seychelles. A large part of the English schedule is taken up by specialist programming from and for Africa, for example Focus on Africa and Africa, Have Your Say. In the 1990s, the BBC added FM facilities in many African capital cities.


    BBC World Service is available by subscription to Sirius XM'ssatellite radio service in the United States.[54] Its Canadian affiliate, Sirius XM Canada does the same in Canada. More than 300 public radio stations across the US carry World Service news broadcasts —mostly during the overnight and early-morning hours— over AM and FM radio, distributed by American Public Media (APM).[55]. The BBC and Public Radio International (PRI) co-produce the programme The World with WGBH Radio Boston, and the BBC was previously involved with The Takeaway morning news programme based at WNYC in New York City. BBC World Service programming also airs as part of CBC Radio One's CBC Radio Overnight schedule in Canada.

    BBC shortwave broadcasts to this region were traditionally enhanced by the Atlantic Relay Station and the Caribbean Relay Company, a station in Antigua run jointly with Deutsche Welle. In addition, an exchange agreement with Radio Canada International gave access to their station in New Brunswick. However, "changing listening habits" led the World Service to end shortwave radio transmission directed to North America and Australasia on 1 July 2001.[56][57] A shortwave listenercoalition formed to oppose the change.[58]

    The BBC broadcasts to Central America and South America in several languages. It is possible to receive the Western African shortwave radio broadcasts from eastern North America, but the BBC does not guarantee reception in this area.[59] It has ended its specialist programming to the Falkland Islands but continues to provide a stream of World Service programming to the Falkland Islands Radio Service.[60]


    For several decades, the World Service's largest audiences have been in Asia, the Middle East, Near East and South Asia. Transmission facilities in the UK and Cyprus were supplemented by the former BBC Eastern Relay Station in Oman and the Far Eastern Relay Station in Singapore, formerly in Malaysia. The East Asian Relay Station moved to Thailand in 1997 when Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese sovereignty. Together, these facilities have given the BBC World Service an easily accessible signal in regions where shortwave listening has traditionally been popular. The English shortwave frequencies of 6.195 (41m band), 9.74 (31m band), 15.31/15.36 (19m band) and 17.76/17.79 (16m band) MHz are widely known.

    The largest audiences are in English, Hindi, Urdu, Nepali, Bengali, Sinhala, Tamil, and other major languages of South Asia, where BBC broadcasters are household names. The Persian service is the de facto national broadcaster of Afghanistan, along with its Iranian audience. The World Service is available up to eighteen hours a day in English across most parts of Asia, and in Arabic for the Middle East. With the addition of relays in Afghanistan and Iraq these services are accessible in most of the Middle and Near East in the evening. In Singapore, the BBC World Service in English is essentially treated as a domestic broadcaster, easily available 24/7 through long-term agreement with MediaCorp Radio. For many years Radio Television Hong Kong broadcast BBC World Service 24/7 but as of 4 September 2017 only broadcasts the station at night. In the Philippines, DZRJ 810 AM broadcasts the BBC World Service in English from 12:00–05:00 PHT (GMT+8).

    Although this region has seen the launch of the only two foreign language television channels, several other services have had their radio services closed as a result of budget cuts and redirection of resources.[61][62]

    Japan and Korea have little tradition of World Service listening, although during the 1970s to 1980s, shortwave listening was popular in Japan. In those two countries, the BBC World Service was only available via shortwave and the Internet. As of September 2007, a satellite transmission (subscription required) became available by Skylife (Channel 791) in South Korea. In November 2016, the BBC World Service announced it plans to start broadcasts in Korean. BBC Korean, a radio and web service, started on 25 September 2017.[63]


    Further information: Radio jamming and Radio jamming in China

    The Soviet Union, Iran, Iraq and Myanmar/Burma have all jammed the BBC in the past. Mandarin was heavily jammed by the People's Republic of China until short wave transmissions for that service ceased[64][65] but China continues to jam transmissions in Uzbek[66][67] and has since started to jam transmissions in English throughout Asia.[67][68]


    The BBC World Service is broadcast in Berlin on 94.8 MHz. FM relays are also available in Ceske Budjovice, Karlovy Vary, Plzen Usti nad Labem, Zlin and Prague in the Czech Republic, Riga, Tirana and Vilnius. A BBC World Service channel is available on DAB+ in Brussels and Flanders and Amsterdam, the Hague, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Following a national reorganisation of DAB multiplexes in October 2017, the station is available on DAB+ across the whole of Denmark[69] .

    The World Service employed a medium wave transmitter at Orfordness to provide English-language coverage to Europe, including on the frequency 648 kHz (which could be heard in parts of the south-east of England during the day and most of the UK after dark). Transmissions on this frequency were stopped on 27 March 2011, as a consequence of the budgetary constraints imposed on the BBC World Service in the 2010 budget review.[70] A second channel (1296 kHz) traditionally broadcast in various Central European languages, but this frequency has also been discontinued and in 2005 it began regular English-language transmissions via the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) format.[71]

    Bush House in London was home to the World Service between 1941 and 2012.
    Steve Titherington - BBC World Questions broadcasting from Budapest

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