BBC World, World Service to merge in December

NEW DELHI: The BBC will create a single integrated BBC international news and information division from December, bringing together BBC World Service and BBC World following approval by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, for the incorporation of BBC World as a separate company.

The announcement in the UK, which came on October 14, also said the aim of the new division, announced last year, is to create a clearer, coordinated presence in the international media marketplace, improving the impact of BBC services and journalism with global audiences, according to an official statement from the BBC.

The new division will be formally established on 1 December this year. It will be led by Mark Byford as Director, World Service and Global News, and will include BBC World Service radio, BBC World television and the BBC's international facing online news services. He will develop the BBC's overall international news strategy and ensure greater editorial, marketing and audience research coordination to deliver a more integrated BBC news strategy around the world.

The new division will work in partnership with BBC News, which will continue to provide core newsgathering, English language news and current affairs programmes in radio and television and the international facing online news site in English.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which funds the World Service through grant-in-aid, has been fully consulted about the proposition and is supportive of the development. BBC World, the international news and information television channel funded by advertising and subscription, will remain a commercial service. The separate identities of the two services and their different funding streams will be respected.

BBC World will no longer be a part of the BBC's commercial arm BBC Worldwide Ltd. The BBC will establish BBC World Ltd as a new subsidiary of the newly established commercial holding company BBC Commercial Holdings Ltd., the statement said.

BBC World Ltd will fully comply with the BBC's Commercial Policy Guidelines and Fair Trading Commitment, UK and EU competition law, and all other relevant regulatory requirements.

Mark Byford, Director of BBC World Service and Global News in the statement said: "The new division brings a golden opportunity for the BBC to strengthen its reputation as the best known and most respected international news broadcaster, across radio, television and new media. I'm determined to build on the impact made by the BBC's international news services in the past year and develop a coordinated global news strategy to enhance our reputation, reach, relevance and impact around the world."

The BBC World Service is a leading international broadcaster, attracting audiences of 150 million listeners each week. It is rapidly developing into a multimedia broadcaster, using radio and the internet, for all its 43 language services. It is funded by grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The grant for 2002/3 is 201m.

In the UK, World Service is available on 648 MW in Southern England. In addition, overnight on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Ulster and across the UK via digital radio, digital satellite and the Internet. Outside the UK, BBC World Service is available on short wave; on FM in more than 130 capital cities; and selected programmes are carried on almost 2,000 FM and MW radio stations around the world. High quality reception of World Service programmes is available via satellite in Europe and North America. It can be heard on the BBC's digital multiplex in the UK, or in Europe on the Astra satellite, channel 865.

BBC World is at the heart of the BBC's vision for global news leadership. BBC World is the BBC's 24-hour, English language, international news and information television channel, reaching 222 million homes in 200 countries and territories worldwide. Launched in its present format in 1995, BBC World is a commercial service.

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