The BBC Worldwide Service said on Wednesday that it will expand its services in 11 new languages, including four Indian languages, as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s. The broadcaster will launch services in Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi with focus on radio services, mobile and video content. The BBC currently offers its content in Hindi, Bengali and Tamil. “This expansion is a result of the funding boost for the BBC World Service announced by the UK Government last year. The first new services are expected to launch in 2017,” it said in a statement.
The broadcaster will be creating 157 new jobs in the region and it will make Delhi the BBC’s largest bureau outside the UK, it added. The BBC currently broadcasts in 29 languages around the world to 246 million people weekly. In total, the BBC touches a weekly global audience of 348 million people. As part of its expansion plans, it will also launch services in Korean and African languages — Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Igbo, Pidgin, Tigrinya and Yoruba.The BBC’s Director-General Tony Hall has set a target for the corporation to reach 500 million people worldwide by its centenary in 2022. “As we move towards our centenary, my vision is of a confident, outward-looking BBC which brings the best of our independent, impartial journalism and world-class entertainment to half a billion people around the world. Today is a key step towards that aim,” he said.
The corporation will focus particularly on increasing audience reach with younger people and women. “We must follow our audience, who consume the news in changing ways; an increasing number of people are watching the World Service on TV, and many services are now digital-only,” BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth said. “We will be able to speed up our digital transformation, especially for younger audiences, and we will continue to invest in video news bulletins,” he added.