Tag Archives: BBC World Service

From the BBC Archives: The first 21 years of the World Service

BBC-AT-WAR

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Andrea Borgnino, who shares a link to the excellent archived radio documentary, The first 21 years of the World Service, via the BBC World Service‘s online audio archives.

The recording/broadcast dates from December, 18 1953. Here’s the description of the recording:

The first 21 years of the World Service: how it began in 1938, its important role in WW2 and its aftermath, including historic moments as they were first broadcast by Churchill, de Gaulle, Eisenhower.

Click here to listen to the documentary via the BBC World Service.

VOG Interval Signal

I learned an interesting fact in this documentary: I had no idea that the BBC used the Greek radio interval signal for their Greek language service while Greece was occupied in WWII. After liberation, the BBC Director General “solemnly” handed the famous interval signal–“the sound of shepherds’ pipes mingling with the bells of their flocks”–back to Greece. Amazing.

The Greek radio interval signal is one of my all-time favorites. Indeed, my mobile phone’s ringtone is the VOG interval signal:

If you would like to add this ringtone to your mobile phone, check out this post from 2013.

BBC to “protect” World Service in strategic plan presented to Parliament

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Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, has made public the UK government’s plan for the future of the BBC, which among other things, will now include Ofcom regulation.

The BBC Trust will also be dissolved and the BBC will have a new unitary board comprised primarily of members independent of the government.

The plan includes major structural changes to the BBC–indeed, possibly some of the most sweeping changes in the corporation’s history. Most major UK/European news outlets will report on this today.

Of course, I was very curious where the BBC World Service would fall in terms of priority. Based on what I’ve read in the report, there will be a serious effort to “protect” the World Service. The following excerpt from the report outlines the plan:

(Source: A BBC for the future: a broadcaster of distinction)

(Image source: BBC)Prioritising funding and protecting the World Service

The decisions that the BBC makes in allocating funding between services will have important consequences for the overall distinctiveness of the BBC. In radio, budgets have a broad spread across the wide range of services.

This is not the case in television where BBC One receives a far greater concentration of funding (see box 19). While of course the BBC needs to invest in its flagship services, the BBC board will need to give careful consideration to its service-level funding decisions.

Matching investment to the strategic priorities for the BBC is generally a matter for the BBC board. But there is one area so critical to the public interest role of the BBC that it is appropriate for the Charter to be more directive. The World Service is one of the BBC’s most distinctive services.

It is hugely valued by audiences and a vital part of the UK’s ability to lead the world in terms of soft power and influence, with its reach and reputation helping to project UK’s cultural and democratic values to more than 246 million people worldwide.

The government will therefore ensure that the BBC protects licence fee
funding for the World Service at its current level of £254 million
per annum.

The BBC will also receive additional funding from the government for the World Service of £34 million in 2016/17 and £85 million a year in the three subsequent years, a significant proportion of which will be Official Development Assistance. As a provider of accurate, impartial and independent news the BBC World Service helps to strengthen democratic accountability and governance, and promote Britain and our values around the world.

The languages in which the World Service operates, and the objectives, priorities and targets of the World Service will continue to be agreed with the Foreign Secretary.

BBC World News is the prime means by which the BBC distributes its television news and current affairs programmes to international audiences. But it does not have the same reputation for quality as the World Service – which is renowned for its radio output. This is in part a question of funding: BBC Global News, the commercial subsidiary that operates the service, had revenues in 2014/15 of just £94 million, less than 10 per cent of the revenues of BBC Worldwide, and a staff of just 120. The BBC must ensure that all its prominent international services have a reputation for delivering high quality, distinctive output. The new unitary board should therefore consider what reforms are needed to improve the quality of BBC World News.

I’ve skimmed the full report and found no specific mention of shortwave radio broadcasting (no surprise). I’m certain the BBC will continue to broadcast over shortwave to strategic regions of the world in the short-term, but over time will certainly decrease offerings.

Click here to download the full report as a PDF.

The BBC World Service A16 shortwave broadcast schedule

(Image source: BBC)Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan H, who writes:

The A16 schedule is released for BBC World Service. Here is a link to the A16 frequency page which features additional links to regional frequency charts and transmitter details.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2x9tqt6mc05vB2S37j8MWMJ/global-short-wave-frequencies

Good news for me is the BBC World Service English language transmission on 11890 kHz from 1500-1700 UTC. Although beamed to Afghanistan and Iran this signal has been strong in northern California for the last several mornings! I must be receiving an odd lobe off of this one! Now I have BBC during breakfast in addition to 7445 kHz I use during my evenings at 0500. Here is a video I shot of 11890 reception this morning.

(Click here to view on YouTube.)

I hope this information is useful for SWL Post readers.

Indeed it is!  Thank you for sharing the schedule info and your video, Dan!

BBC World Service receives funding increase

BBC-AT-WAR(Source: BBC Media Centre via Jonathan Marks)

Statement on newly announced Government funding of the World Service

Tony Hall, the Director-General of the BBC, said:
“I warmly welcome today’s announcement. It’s fantastic news.

“This new funding is the single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed by any government.

“The millions announced today will help the BBC deliver on our commitment to uphold global democracy through accurate, impartial and independent news reporting.

“The World Service is one of the UK’s most important cultural exports and one of our best sources of global influence. We can now further build on that. The funding will also help speed us on to our target of reaching half a billion people globally.”

  • Enhanced TV services for Africa
  • New radio services for audiences in North Korea; radio and digital services for Ethiopia and Eritrea
  • Additional language offers via digital and TV in India and Nigeria
  • More regionalised content to better serve audiences to the BBC Arabic Service
  • Dedicated TV output for Somalia and a fully digital service for Thailand
  • Enhanced digital and TV services for Russian speakers, both in Russia and surrounding communities
  • A video-led digital transformation of Languages services
  • To expand the impact and future-proof World Service English

BBC sets plans for next decade

BBC-AT-WARMany thanks to SWLing Post reader, Bill, for sharing a link to this article which summarizes the BBC’s plans for the next ten years.

BBC director general, Tony Hall, said the corporation will become an “open BBC for the internet age”.

While Hall was quick to add that funding cuts would equate to “the loss or reduction of some services” he also highlighted several efforts that would include shortwave and mediumwave broadcasts, including:

  • “Significant investment” in the BBC World Service, including a daily news programme for North Korea and more broadcasts to Russia, India and the Middle East
  • A news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short wave

Of course, we can expect more cuts to BBC World Service shortwave broadcasting over the next ten years even if it wasn’t specifically mentioned in Hall’s speech. If we’re lucky, the BBC will continue to broadcast into those parts of the world that still rely on shortwave. Specifically mentioning North Korea, Ethiopia and Eritrea appears to be a nod in that direction.

Click here to read this article on the BBC News website.

Also, The Guardian has posted the full text of Tony Hall’s speech. It’s worth reading.