Further written evidence from the BBC
World Service |
1. What savings were made as a result of a)
removal of the shortwave transmission in North America and Australia
in 2001, b) the removal of shortwave transmission from Europe
(a) £300,000 per annum
(b) £230,000 per annum
(a) What are the expected savings from ending
radio distribution in Azeri, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish for Cuba,
Turkish, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian?
The distribution saving is expected to be £0.8
million per annum, and the associated savings in production costs
£4.2 million per annum.
(b) What will be the expected savings from
ceasing all foreign short wave transmissions language (aside from
lifeline services) by March 2014?
The World Service expects to save £10 million
per annum by March 2014 due to reduced radio distribution.
2. In each case, what is the rationale behind
the closure of short-wave radio distribution in Azeri, Mandarin,
Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian?
The World Service will be ending all radio output
in each of the languages in the question, not just short wave
distribution of those services. The rationales are as follows:
Regulatory context has made it extremely difficult
to maintain a cost-effective radio service in Azeri. All international
media broadcasts on local FM frequencies in Azerbaijan have been
banned by the national broadcasting authorities since January
2009. Since the ban, the BBC's output has only been available
on shortwave, a medium that is used by a fraction of the population.
Even before the ban, BBC programmes had a declining reach of around
150,000 listeners - a 65% drop since the previous measurement
Television and FM are now the dominant media for
news consumption in Azerbaijan, with increasing usage of the internet,
which 44% of the population can access. With little immediate
prospect of a change in the regulatory context, the BBC faces
a decreasing prospect of achieving lasting impact in the country
BBC Azeri will continue to serve its audiences through
its online presence, which offers an international agenda with
a specialist focus on the Caucasus, including Azerbaijan.
Due to the jamming of short wave radio signals by
the Chinese authorities over decades, BBC Chinese's radio programming
in Mandarin struggles to make a lasting impact and reaches a very
small audience given the size of the target population. Given
the financial pressures, the service will refocus away from radio
to concentrate on its online provision, which - while still subject
to control and censorship - has greater future potential for growth.
With rapid technological changes happening in China (the biggest
broadband and mobile market in the world), the BBC will strengthen
its online offer; continue to explore opportunities on new platforms
such as mobile phones; and invest in new technologies to facilitate
content delivery to its target audience in mainland China and
to Chinese communities abroad. BBC World News, the BBC's international
English language news and information television channel, is available
in China, generally without restriction, and is estimated to have
a bigger audience than the Mandarin radio service.
Despite the BBC's best efforts in recent years, it
has not been possible to secure a sustainable presence on FM -
the dominant platform for radioin Russia. Since 2003, regulatory
and political barriers have prevented the BBC accessing the FM
market either through its own distribution or in partnerships.
This has left shortwave and medium wave - both of
which continue to decline in use in Russia and the wider region
- as the only route for the BBC. This has been reflected in low
and declining audiences; since 2001 the BBC Russian radio audience
in Russia has declined by 85% from 3.4 million to 0.5 million
a week , representing just 0.6% of the adult population.
At the same time, BBC World News has been building
its impact in Russia, with 1.6 million viewers, more than three
times the radio audience in Russian.
In order to increase its impact, BBC Russian has
also developed a number of partnerships with internet providers,
raising the BBC's profile on the platform that Russians with an
interest in independent news and the outside world increasingly
turn to for their news. BBC Russian online audiences have grown
by 89% in the past 12 months (121% within Russia itself), thanks
in part to successful partnerships with GZT.RU and MSN among others.
With 0.4 million weekly users in Russia as of December 2010, BBC
Russian already reaches almost as many people online as it does
Since 2003, the BBC's radio audiences have been declining
in Vietnam by 20% annually. Today, the reach has fallen below
1% with 110,000 listeners - around the same number of those who
watch BBC World News in English.
In the meantime, Vietnam has developed a booming
media market with high internet usage. Consequently, BBC Vietnamese
has been pursuing an 'online-first' strategy for several years,
and its efforts to address this shift in news consumption have
proved successful with BBCVietnamese.com attracting some 390,000
weekly users (just under 3% reach in the country) - over three
and a half times the size of the radio audience. In future, the
BBC will exclusively focus its Vietnamese provision online, with
rich multimedia and interactive elements, offering an international
agenda with a focus on regional affairs.
Spanish for Cuba
BBC Mundo has a very low impact in Cuba, reaching
9,000 listeners last time the audience there was measured in 2002.
Furthermore, given the strength of the US government's transmitters
used for broadcasting to Cuba, which has the effect of jamming
the signals of other broadcasters, the audibility of our shortwave
signal is exceedingly poor, turning potential listeners away.
For most of the last decade, Turkey has enjoyed the
benefits of a fully developed media market, with television dominant
as the medium for news. In the major population centres, daily
television viewing is almost 100%, while daily radio listening
has fallen below 30%. At the same time, the internet is now available
to 45% of the population.
BBC Turkish has already reoriented its output to
reflect these media changes. Its television programming has made
a strong impact, with 1.7 million weekly viewers, and its online
offer has recently had great success thanks to extended partnerships,
which reach 0.5 million weekly unique users. The service intends
to further focus on these growing platforms.
Television dominates media and news consumption in
Ukraine, with online and mobile devices becoming increasingly
important. Mobile penetration - i.e. the ratio of the number of
mobile phone numbers in use to the size of the population - is
expected to reach 145% in 2011, higher than the equivalent figure
for the UK. Since its record audiences in 2003, when it had 2.5
million listeners, BBC Ukrainian has not been able to maintain
the same level of impact in an increasingly competitive and fragmented
3. How many people are currently employed
in a) the distribution of shortwave radio transmission in Azeri,
Mandarin, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, and
Ukrainian and b) all remaining short and medium wave distribution
which will close by 2014?
(a) The World Service's six high power shortwave
transmitter sites around the world are operated and managed on
behalf of the BBC by Babcock International Group plc. The staff
at those sites are employed by or contracted to Babcock, not the
The World Service understands that the cessation
of its radio broadcasts in Azeri will not directly affect any
Babcock staff employed in distribution, as they will continue
to be employed to support distribution of broadcasts in other
It also understands that the cessation of its radio
transmissions in Mandarin and Vietnamese, which are broadcast
primarily from the transmitter site in Singapore, will be accommodated
without affecting the Babcock staff who operate and manage that
The World Service ended its shortwave broadcasts
in Turkish in 2009, and understands that this did not directly
affect any Babcock staff.
However the World Service understands that the cessation
of its radio broadcasts in Russian and Ukrainian will affect up
to 60 staff employed by Babcock.
(b) The World Service understands that the cessation
of its medium wave broadcasts, and further reductions in shortwave
broadcasts by 2014, will affect up to 150 Babcock employees
at four World Service transmitter sites, and up to 30 staff
at the World Service transmitter site in Cyprus, of which for
historic reasons 25 are employees of the FCO and 5 are employees
4. On 26 January 2011, the Foreign Secretary
stated that "the World Service initially suggested to the
Foreign Office the closure of up to 13 language services".
Which services were recommended for closure? What was the suggested
rationale behind each recommendation?
The suggestion that the Spending Review settlement
would require the closure of 13 language services was made to
the FCO on 11 October 2010, after FCO officials had provided an
initial briefing on the provisional settlement - but before the
settlement was confirmed on 20 October.
The public identification of the 13 services that
were considered in this and other scenarios would be likely to
undermine the future effectiveness of those services in their
markets. The BBC could however provide this list to the Committee
on a confidential basis.
This scenario was based on an overall assessment
of the most effective mix of full service closures, cuts to other
editorial budgets and regenerative investment to sustain the World
Service's reach and impact. The BBC's view was that this number
of language service closures would have allowed an appropriate
ability to maintain the quality and impact of the remaining, higher
priority services, while giving us flexibility to invest to ensure
the World Service remains competitive at a time of greater change
in the media.
We carried out an exercise to identify priorities
among the language services, which considered:
- the strategic importance of the markets served
by different languages;
- the impact of BBC services in those markets;
- the cost-effectiveness of services.
Where the BBC recommended closure, it did so only
because in each specified case its independent judgement was that
this was strategically preferable to further thinning-out of the
World Service's finite resources.
5. How many people are currently employed
in the full language services due for closure: Albanian, Macedonian,
Portuguese for Africa, Serbian and English for the Caribbean?
|Portuguese for Africa ||11
|English for the Caribbean ||5
(a) If the World Service's recommendation of a closure
of 13 language services, had been accepted by the Foreign Secretary,
what would have been the expected job losses?
Post closures from those 13 services alone would have been 215.
No figure is available for the total number of post closures that
would have arisen from the wider changes accompanying the 13 closures
in this scenario.
6. You have stated that "audiences will fall by more
than 30 million ... as a result of the changes", while the
Foreign Secretary has told the House that the closure of the five
language service will account for 3.5 million listeners. What
is the basis for these figures and how have they been calculated?
The loss of around 30 million weekly audience members refers to
the expected loss from all of the full service closures, radio
service closures and shortwave and medium wave distribution reductions
which are to be implemented in the first full year of the programme
of changes ie by March 2012. That is to say, the World Service's
global audience estimate was recalculated to exclude audiences
due to be lost as a result of these changes.
The five full service closures account for an audience loss of
3.4 million. The services which are closing radio output account
for a further 3.3 million. The cessation of short wave and medium
wave is expected to lose the World Service around 25 million listeners,
depending on overlap with other radio delivery platforms.
7. What are the most recent listening figures for each
of the five language services which will be closed fully; Albanian,
Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa, Serbian and English for the
|Portuguese for Africa||1,498,000
|English for the Caribbean||660,000
8. What are the most recent listening figures for radio
distribution in Azeri, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish,
Vietnamese, and Ukrainian?
|Spanish for Cuba||9,000
9. Of the 650 announced job losses, 480 will occur in 2011-12.
When will the remaining 170 jobs be lost?
Most of the approximately 170 remaining post closures are expected
to occur during 2012-13 and 2013-14, however some may also occur
in 2011-12 as exact timings depend on decisions within individual
10. Will the 650 announced job losses be concentrated purely
on the World Service, rather than BBC Global News? What will be
the total expected job losses across BBC Global News (including
the already announced cuts to BBC Monitoring)?
The approximately 650 post closures relate only to the changes
announced by the World Service. Additionally, BBC Monitoring are
consulting on proposals to close 72 posts.
11. Please provide a detailed breakdown of where the announced
480 losses in 2011-12, and the remaining 170 losses by
2014-15 will occur.
A detailed breakdown of the 480 proposed post closures in 2011-12
is provided below.
|Portuguese for Africa||11
|Sub-total due to closure of five services:
| || |
|other Asia-Pacific languages||3
|Sub-total for remaining language services:
| || |
|BBC Audio & Music||12
|World Service announcers||3
|Sub-total for World Service English:||71.5
| || |
|WS Finance & Business Affairs||9
|Digital Technology, New Media||4
|Strategy & Business Development||13
|Studio and TV Operations||54
|Sub-total for support departments:||86
| || |
Figures refer to the gross number of posts on a full-time-equivalent
basis, and therefore do not take into account new posts which
the World Service plans to open as part of the programme of changes.
The net number of post closures during 2011-12 is expected to
Details are not available of which posts will be proposed for
closure as part of the remaining 170 or so closures expected between
2011-12 and 2013-14. However, these closures are also expected
to fall across the full spectrum of World Service activity, ie
language services, World Service English and support departments,
and will be announced within departments when they occur.
12. Have you had any discussions with bodies other than
the Foreign Office and the BBC regarding funding of the World
Service? Specifically, have there been indications that the Department
for International Development will be providing funding to maintain
World Service programming and coverage?
The World Service held a number of meetings with DFID officials
and ministers over the period when the Government was carrying
out the Spending Review, to help assess to what extent World Service
activity contributed to development goals.
As part of these discussions, the World Service provided DFID
with a note summarising the World Service's analysis at that time
of existing and potential World Service activity that could constitute
Official Development Assistance (ODA). This note is appended to
The World Service shared its analysis with the Treasury in its
initial submission to the Spending Review, making the case that
activities constituting ODA should be protected from cuts.
In the Spending Review settlement, the FCO asked World Service
to make a £25m minimum annual commitment to Official Development
Assistance. However no additional funding has been provided for
this by the FCO or DFID.
If however the Government wished to pursue this possibility, any
additional funding could be targeted to fully qualify towards
the Government's ODA commitment, and would enable the World Service
primarily to invest in new services which also meet development
purposes and to adjust some of the most immediately impactful
reductions. This would be similar to the approach taken in the
current financial year, in which £40m of DFID's budget was
transferred to the FCO to support the British Council.
If, for example, the Government chose to fully fund the World
Service's £25m ODA commitment, the World Service would be
- invest in programming in Hindi for television, online and
mobile services in India, and retain a reduced Hindi shortwave
radio service to maintain the BBC's presence (especially in the
rural north of the country) until new services are established;
- create BBC Urdu television content which would help counter
the increasingly politicised news disseminated by local providers
and contribute to the stabilisation of Pakistan and Afghanistan;
- build partnerships with broadcasters in Anglophone Africa
to build capacity in the local media and support provision of
high quality news and current affairs in these rapidly developing
- retain the current shortwave coverage of World Service English
in order to continue to serve those listeners in Africa and south
Asia with no alternative source of impartial news; and
- develop new TV programming and online content in Arabic, to
facilitate debate within the community of young, innovative and
diverse thinkers who have been shaping events behind the digital
curtain of social media networks across the Arab world, and which
has burst into prominence in recent weeks in Tunisia and Egypt;
and maintain shortwave and mediumwave radio broadcasts for those
audiences who do not yet have access to digital media.
(a) Can the Committee be provided with copies of any correspondence
between the BBC World Service and DfID over future funding arrangements
for the World Service?
A note the World Service provided to DfID during the Spending
Review, which summarises the World Service's analysis at that
time of the existing and potential World Service activity that
could constitute Official Development Assistance, is appended
to this submission.
16 February 2011
SUBMISSION ON WORLD SERVICE ACTIVITY IN RELATION TO THE
UK'S DEVELOPMENT AMBITIONS (JULY 2010)
Below is a note in which the BBC set out its initial thinking
about existing and potential World Service activities which support
the UK's development goals. It was submitted to DFID in July 2010.
The analysis it expresses was also shared with the FCO and HM
BBBC WORLD SERVICE
By virtue of its core activity of providing reliable news and
information to many of the world's poorest countries, the BBC
World Service plays a substantial role in supporting development
goals. Free and independent media are essential to effective governance;
they promote accountability and can help bolster fragile states.
These are increasingly recognised as prerequisites for economic
development and welfare.
The World Service helps enable people in the least developed and
most fragile countries to learn, share knowledge and participate
in public life, by providing widespread access to trusted information
and public debate. It has an opportunity to strengthen and expand
this role as part of an integrated Government strategy to promote
development and secure the UK's international objectives. More
specifically, the World Service can contribute to:
- Strengthening governance and accountability. The World
Service provides close scrutiny of decision-making elites and
ensures news is available that is free of political bias or influence,
at times with massive impact. For example it was a BBC Hausa interview
with the ill Nigerian President that prompted a constitutional
upheaval that resulted in Goodluck Jonathan taking office.
- Supporting poor and marginalised populations, by ensuring
access to authoritative news and information where it is absent.
For example, the BBC is de facto national broadcaster in Somalia,
Afghanistan, Burma and a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Supporting fragile states. The BBC offers an impartial
alternative to extremist ideology and incitement, especially in
fractured societies (eg Rwanda), and ensures their citizens have
access to international values and perspectives.
- Humanitarian response. Rapid flow of information to
people affected by disasters and crises is an essential, but under-recognised
part of development activity. The World Service has delivered
crisis services after the Haiti earthquake, Cyclone Nargis (providing
one of the few sources of lifeline information for Burma), in
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Darfur.
- Covering issues relevant to the Millennium Development
Goals. The issues on which progress towards the MDGs depends
are increasingly at the forefront of the BBC's independent editorial
agenda, especially climate change. The World Service and World
Service Trust work together on the BBC World Debates, involving
and educating people across the developing and developed worlds
on key development issues.
- Research and evaluating policy impact. The BBC has
a large network of researchers and research projects around the
world providing a foundation for understanding the information
needs of people living in poverty. The potential to use this research
capability and insight to support development actors is currently
Countries which appear on the DAC list and where the World Service
has a significant presence include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma,
Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Iran, Kenya,
Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian
Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda,
Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia.
This note provides initial ideas about the ways in which the BBC
already does or could do more to support the UK's development
goals in these territories. Although a number of World Service
activities deliver development benefits, no assessment has been
made of the extent to which World Service activities meet DAC
Many of the World Service's vernacular language services are targeted
at the countries identified above. Often, their programming is
made and broadcast from the UK, primarily because local conditions
do not allow our services to operate safely and securely. But
the programmes are broadcast to and for the benefit of a number
of high priority countries for development. Where possible, we
are increasingly moving services to their target countries; and
even services based in the UK spend significant sums on newsgathering
and transmission in the countries in question.
We estimate existing expenditure associated with activities in,
or services for, the countries listed above as follows:
|In-country newsgathering and content production (includes employing, training, equipping local journalists)
|In-country transmission and operations
|Training and technical assistance for partner broadcasters
|Ex-country newsgathering and content production for services for ODA countries
|Total||~ £67m per annum
New initiatives for sub Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan
BBC World Service is preparing proposals for new investments to
enhance the BBC's presence in priority countries and develop sustainable
local journalism. At present, these ideas lack funding.
The budgets of these services would include significant spend
on activities with development benefit:
- A television and multimedia news service for Anglophone Africa:
up to £5 million.
- Urdu TV news: around £12 million budget.
- Afghan TV news: up to £3 million.
- Expanded radio distribution on FM networks in Africa and south
Asia: ~ £2 million.
- Total: ~ £22 million per annum.
The development dimension of these activities would primarily
be building capacity in local media organisations, and embedding
journalistic standards of impartiality, accuracy, scrutiny and
accountability. Specific initiatives might include:
- Coproduction of news and other content.
- Embedding local BBC staff in broadcast partners.
- In-house/in-post training of local journalists or partners.
- Technical/production assistance for partners.
- Establishment of BBC training facilities/academies for promotion
of journalistic excellence.
- Promoting and enabling citizen journalism.
- Production and broadcast of programming relevant to development
- Development of in-country broadcasting infrastructure, especially
Revised July 2010
House of Commons International Development Committee, Department
for International Development Annual Report & Resource Accounts
See for example Roumeen Islam (ed.), Information and Public Choice,
World Bank 2008, and The Right to Tell, WBI Development Studies
2002; and Pippa Norris (ed.), Public Sentinel: News Media and
Governance Reform, IBRD 2010. Back