Fran Unsworth to take over BBC World Service while remaining deputy head of news

BBC deputy director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth has been appointed director of the BBC World Service Group.

Unsworth will retain her current title as she takes charge of the World Service, World News and bbc.com/news. She will also lead BBC Monitoring and will chair the BBC’s international development charity, BBC Media Action.

Unsworth's current role pays £183,000 a year and the current director of the World Service is paid £232,959. The BBC has not revealed how much Unsworth will earn in her combined role, but the corporation's highest earners do have their salaries published quarterly.

Press Gazette understands Unsworth's World Service job will be her "primary role" but that she will deputise for director of news and current affairs James Harding "where necessary".

She replaces Peter Horrocks, who announced he was leaving the BBC in the New Year after 33 years.

The BBC is aiming to build its global audience to 500m by 2020, with the last estimate for this figure standing at 265m. This is up from 234m in 2007.

In May, a report by Sir Howard Stringer, commissioned by director of news and current affairs James Harding, found that the corporation was “punching well below its weight in the digital world”.

Unsworth said: "Today is the proudest day of my professional life. I do not take on lightly the responsibility of looking after a part of the BBC with such a proud history.

“I promise to be the guardian of the best of the BBC's values of independence, impartiality and fairness in our international services, while continuing the successful modernisation of the World Service Group to take our journalism to new audiences worldwide.”

Director General of the BBC Tony Hall said: “I have known Fran since she joined the BBC and watched in admiration as her career has developed. 

"Her range of skills and experience combined with a quite exceptional gift for management makes her exactly the right person to take over the enormously important job of directing the World Service Group."

Harding said: "Fran embodies the best of the BBC: she is thoughtful and enabling, tireless and determined, interesting and smart.  

"Fran is already known for her record in fighting for journalistic freedom and free expression.  

"I know she will prove an inspiring and respected director of the World Service, inside the BBC, in Britain and around the world."

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