Written evidence submitted by BBC World
BBC WORLD SERVICE AND GLOBAL NEWS IN SOUTH
South Africa is home to many of the continent's
major media companies, and its broadcasters and publications reflect
the diversity of the population as a whole. The BBC operates its
Africa newsgathering co-ordination centre for radio and TV from
Johannesburg. The Africa Bureau was established in the early 70s,
and is one of the BBC's seven major newsgathering "hubs"
located around the world. The Bureau provides news coverage for
World Service radio, BBC World television, the BBC's International
Facing Online News Site and the domestic channels.
Although the impact of the World Service has,
in recent years, been limited in South Africa for reasons detailed
below, the BBC recognised the need to adapt to the changing market
following deregulation. It has established a good relationship
with SABC, the home broadcaster, which has enabled the World Service
to be heard by a wider audience than previously reached.
The reach of BBC World has been enhanced through
a digital TV agreement, and a rebroadcasting arrangement with
The BBC is also making inroads into the emerging
internet marketit has headline syndication deals in place
with the largest Internet Service Provider in the country, and
with two leading websites.
The strong regional programming produced for
World Service radio and BBC World television has been a key factor
in reaching new audiences through these recent negotiations.
The South African constitution provides for
freedom of the press, and this is generally respected in practice.
Laws, regulation and political control of media content are considered
to be moderate and there is little evidence of repressive measures
Newspapers and magazines publish reports and
comment critical of the government and the state-owned SABC is
far more independent now than during the apartheid era.
Post-apartheid the South African government
has been keen to decentralise control of the radio and TV market.
Deregulation in 1996 led to a proliferation of private radio stations
to compete with the overwhelmingly state-oriented broadcasting
system. Listeners in Johannesburg alone can now choose from among
some 40 radio services, from the national broadcasts of the reformed
state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to community
stations targeting local neighbourhoods or ethnic groups.
Prior to deregulation, the apartheid government
made great efforts to deliver pro-government radio services through
high quality FM networks, and as a result, short wave listening
did not develop as in other parts of Africa, where domestic services
were, and to some extent still are, delivered mainly via shortwave.
South Africa represents a large radio market
with 22.9 million adults listening in a typical week. Just over
16 million of these radio listeners can understand at least some
English. In comparison with television, with print media, radio
remains the most powerful medium.
The World Service delivers its programmes via
SABC (through a recently signed new agreement with the corporationfurther
details are given below), by shortwave, through partnerships with
some local FM stations, and via audio channels on Multichoice.
Well-established state-run and commercial TV
networks broadcast nationally, and hundreds of thousands of viewers
subscribe to pay-TV services operated by the major cable and satellite
company MultiChoice. SABC operates three national TV networks
and two pay-TV channels. 13.4% of the population have access to
BBC World is available on digital television
and there are also morning and evening rebroadcasts of BBC World
news sequences every day on SABC 3 TV.
In June 2000, President Thabo Mbeki set up an
international information technology council to help Africa bridge
the "digital divide". Africa has only 0.6% of the world's
internet users and two-thirds of them are in South Africa, which
amounts to just over 7% of the population. 10% of the population
have mobile phones. The BBC is making headway into this market
with deals recently struck with M-Web, the largest Internet Service
Provider in the country, amongst others. It is also exploring
the possibility of a mobile phone deal.
Full details of the BBC's radio, TV and online
offer to South Africa, and its newsgathering strength there, are
set out below.
BBC WORLD SERVICE
The World Service broadcasts in English to South
Africa 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Special regional programmes
for Africa are broadcast on the English Service for over five
hours a day every weekday and over two hours on Saturdays and
African news features daily in the well established
and respected news and current affairs programmes, Focus on
Africa, (broadcast three times a day during the week, one
edition at weekends) that offers evening news and analysis from
the region, and Network Africa (broadcast five times a
day weekdays) that produces a morning mix of rolling news, analysis,
sport, features and music.
Africa Live, launched in June this year,
is an interactive programme that gets to the heart of Africa and
the continent's issues, and encourages listeners to phone in,
email and text the programme with comments. This programme was
set up using extra Grant-in-Aid funds allocated to the World Service
for broadcasting to Africa in the Spending Review 2002it
aims to tackle grassroot problems specific to Africa and offers
positive solutions and guidance on the way forward. The programme
has discussed development issues which have resonance for South
Africa such as the Brian Drain, the treatment of refugees and
foreigners, Africa's Airline industry, the drug industry and the
politics of Water. The programme has ensured that South Africans
are very much part of the discussion. One such example was when
Africa Live discussed the merits of African inventions.
The programme linked up with Don Pilkington, Managing Director,
South African Institute of Inventors, who was able to offer advice
to inventors across the continent on how to get patents etc.
Africa Live was also invited to go global
as part of the World Service's 70th anniversary celebrations.
Table Mountain in Cape Town, the location of World Service's first
Outside Broadcast in 1933, was the venue for Global Live.
From the top of the mountain World Service presenters linked live
to callers around the world for a 14-hour broadcast.
Other regional programmes include African
Perspective, a weekly programme which takes an in-depth look
at life in Africa. Fastrack is a popular sports programme
that reports on Africa's sports results, and provides analysis
and interviewsit recently interviewed the South African
winner of the women's high jump competition at the World Athletics
Talking Pointthe WS global phone-in
programme that gives listeners and internet users the opportunity
to put questions to guestswas joined from the Aids Conference
in Durban in August by South African Minister of Health Mantombazana
Tshabalala-Msimang and Stephen Lewis UNAIDS envoy for HIV/Aids
The African Service also strives to reflect
South African culture on its airwaves. Each year the World Service
holds a playwriting competition and this year the second prize
winner came from South Africa. Soldier Boy, was a powerful
drama set in South Africa during the Angola border war and recorded
entirely on location in Kwazulu Natal. The plays companion programme
heard from two ex-combatants, one from the SADF, the other from
MK the armed wing of the ANC.
Coming up in November this year, as part of
the HIV/Aids programme season, the World Service has been granted
rights to broadcast the Nelson Mandela Foundation concert from
Cape Town which aims to raise awareness about HIV and to help
South African victims of Aids. The programme will feature an address
by Nelson Mandela, as well as world-class musical performances
and contributions from key celebrities and political figures.
The World Service can be heard 24 hours a day
across South Africa via short wave.
In 2002 the BBC signed a new agreement with
SABC, which allows SABC to use news items from the World Service
in their own outputproperly credited. In addition to news
items, sports and features are also relayed on the English FM
network of SABC.
SABC also has an extensive network of FM stations
broadcasting in local languagesWorld Service news items
and despatches are used on these African language FM networks,
with an appropriate translation in to the relevant local language.
The World Service has several local partner
stations: Radio Khwezi in Kranskop (Zulu Natal) and Good News
Community Radio in Durban are community stations that run some
BBC output. Bush Radio in Cape Town also takes World Service programming,
including some English teaching.
World Service can also be received 24 hours
a day via Multichoice (satellite TV) as an audio channel throughout
In April 2001, MultiChoice Africa and the BBC
World Service renewed their long-standing agreement to broadcast
the BBC throughout the continent of Africa. This agreement extended
the broadcast rights of BBC World Service for an additional five
years, and included the 50 countries in which MultiChoice Africa
was currently operating. The service enables subscribers to MultiChoice
Africa's premium DStv bouquet to listen to BBC World Service 1,
2 and 3 channels via their decoders.
Additionally, World Service is available as
a 24 hour service on the digital satellite channel Worldspace.
Michel Lobelle, Broadcasting Manager for the
Africa/Middle East Region, has been based in Cape Town for the
last two years, and has made significant progress in developing
rebroadcasting opportunities in Southern Africa.
BBC has traditionally had very small radio audiences
in South Africa compared to the rest of Africa. In late 1995,
when the World Service last commissioned a survey, BBC World Service
on short wave was reaching approximately 310,000 weekly listeners
(2.4% of the population).
In addition, the weekly audience on SAFM in
English is about 700,000. All SABC African networks represent
cumulative weekly audiences of about 30 million. The World Service
does not include any of these figures in its estimated audience
for the BBC because the news items are usually short and the BBC
specifies a minimum duration before counting the listeners in
to its figures. However, the arrangement clearly helps the BBC
with its profile in South Africa.
The BBC does not have recent audience figures
for listening to BBC via individual community stations.
Audience research carried out by Roper Starch
in 1998 revealed that most people associate the name "BBC"
The Johannesburg Bureau, run by Bureau Chief
Milton Nkosi, is the BBC's radio, television and online bureau
for Africa. Three correspondents, two main producers, a television
crew, two African service stringers and occasional casual staff
operate from the bureau. There is a small but very busy radio
studio, and one of the busiest television edit suites amongst
international bureau in Africa. A lot of the work produced is
for World Service radio and domestic news. Local translators,
fixers and technicians are employed for teams coming out from
The bureau, established in the early 70s, has
seen many well-known correspondents come through itMichael
Burke, Fergal Keane, Jeremy Vine, George Alagiah, Rageh Omar,
Allan Little, Jane Standley among them.
A range of freelance crews work closely with
the Africa bureauits coverage stretches throughout sub-Saharan
Africa. In recent weeks teams have covered the Liberia civil war
and the subsequent departure of former president Charles Taylor,
and the Africa tour by President Bush was covered in all the countries
he visited. A year ago the bureau, with the help of colleagues
from London, covered the biggest conference on earth, the World
Summit on Sustainable Development.
The bureau has also been the base for BBC reporters
previously working in Zimbabwe. Since early 2001 when new media
laws were introduced in that country, and the BBC's own correspondent
was expelled, the BBC and all foreign journalists have been prevented
from having a permanent reporting presence there. However, as
Zimbabwe continues to be a major story, the BBC has sought to
ensure that it is covered in the depth and breadth that it warrants,
making use of the facilities available at the Johannesburg office.
Productions range from day to day news coverage
to Newsnights, Panoramas, documentaries and Correspondent.
The popular BBC World magazine programme, Africa Direct,
is produced from the bureauit shows a different Africa
from the usual news material. Short films about what Africans
are doing to improve their lives are also produced from the bureau.
The countries reported from in the last year
include: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Angola, Mozambique,
Dem Rep Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia,
Somaliland, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin,
Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Niger, Liberia, Gambia, Malawi and Djibouti.
BBC WORLD TELEVISION
BBC World is available as a full 24 - 7 service
on the DSTV digital pay service to 880,000 subscribers.
A late night and early morning BBC World News
bulletin is rebroadcast on SABC3, who also carry a selection of
BBC World programmes overnighttaken from the previous day's
output. The arrangement with BBC World to rebroadcast simultaneous
News Bulletins and selected programmes, replaced the agreement
that SABC previously had with competitors CNN. An agreement is
also in place for SABC to simultaneously use BBC World's Breaking
News, on any of their terrestrial channels.
BBC World and CNN are equally popular on the
DSTV line up.
The BBC has a headline syndication deal in place
with M-Web, the largest Internet Service Provider in the country,
which provides access to the BBC's online services. Headline syndication
deals are also in place with iAfrica.com, which is the biggest
portal, and Ananzi.com, which is the biggest search engine.
These three websites display continually updated
headline feeds from BBC News Online. Each headline links to the
full story on the BBC website.
Data gathered for August this year indicated
that traffic from South Africa for the World Service and the BBC's
International Facing Site amounted to about 1.17 million page
impressions. That figure does not include traffic from South Africa
for other parts of the BBC site.
The BBC is also exploring the possibility of
a mobile phone deal, which would enable mobile phone users to
receive BBC news bulletins via text messages directly to their
BBC World Service
LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE
TO THE BBC WORLD SERVICE
As you may be aware, the Foreign Affairs Committee
recently visited South Africa as part of its current inquiry into
UK-South African relations. During the visit we had the pleasure
of meeting Mr Milton Nkosi and some of his staff at your bureau
in Johannesburg. We were, as ever, very pleased to see the valuable
work being done by the Service's staff.
Following our visit, the Committee had a number
of questions concerning the BBC World Service's broadcasts in
Could you provide details of the Swahili service
provided by other national radio services, particularly those
of the USA, France, Germany and China?
Were it possible to receive an answer to these
points by Friday 12 March, I would be very grateful. If your staff
would like any clarification on these matters, please do not hesitate
to contact the Second Clerk of the Committee, Geoffrey Farrar
(020 7219 3309 / firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rt Hon Donald Anderson MP
Chairman of the Committee
24 February 2004
LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE FROM
BBC WORLD SERVICE
Thank you for recent inquiry. I am delighted
to hear that you enjoyed your meeting with Milton and the other
staff in our Johannesburg bureau and that the Committee could
see that part of the World Service's work first hand.
The answers to the Committee's five questions:
1. What is the estimated number of speakers
of Swahili as a first language in Africa?
A. There are approximately 100 million Swahili
speakers, of whom about 25 million speak it as their first language.
2. For how long does the BBC World Service
broadcast in Swahili each day at present?
A. Presently BBC Swahili transmits five programmes
Two half hour current affairs
programmes in the morning;
Five minutes lunch time news
60 minutes of current affairs
in the afternoon; and
15 minutes of African news
in the evening.
A total of two hours and 20 minutes everyday on a
On Saturdays we broadcast for two hours and on Sundays
for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Weekend programming includes 45 minutes
each weekend devoted to programming about learning English.
3. What is the estimated number of listeners
to the BBC WS's Swahili service?
A. The current weekly measured audience for Swahili
is 18.4 million which includes listening inDR Congo, Kenya,
Mozambique, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
4. Could you provide details of the Swahili
service by other national radio services, particularly those of
the USA, France, Germany and China?
A. International Broadcasters in Swahili include
Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle), Voice of America, Radio China,
Radio Japan, Radio Iran, Radio Egypt, Radio Nigeria and Channel
Africa (South Africa Broadcasting Corporation). Deutsche Welle
and Voice of America are the two main traditional competitors.
The Kenya Broadcast Corporation broadcasts on SW and also has
a sizeable audience. Radio China, Voice of Nigeria and Radio Cairo
also broadcast in Swahili but have niche audiences. The others
mentioned would also have minimal audiences.
By way of comparison the respective weekly measured
listening figures in the three main countries are as follows (some
of those surveyed would listen to more than one service):
59.8% listening weekly (11.5 millions)
Voice of America
31% listening weekly (5.6 millions)
Voice of America
7.5% listening weekly (0.9 millions)
Voice of America
5. Does the World Service have any plans
to make changes to its Swahili service in the near future?
A. The World Service is planning to improve its
audibility still further by increasing the number of FM transmissions
in most of the target areas especially Southern Tanzania and other
major towns in Kenya. I appreciate that the Committee's agenda
has been particularly busy of late and that the Easter Recess
is fast approaching but I am keen that the Committee be kept fully
abreast of the World Service's activities and plans. With this
in mind I was wondering if the Committee would like to visit Bush
House after Easter so that I can brief them about the challenges
facing the World Service and our exciting plans to meet them.
BBC World Service
11 March 2004