Listeners turn to World Service post 9/11

BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman has said that post 9/11 polarisation helps explain the station's record listening figures.

The BBC revealed this week that the World Service currently attracts 163 million listeners a week, up by 14 million from a year ago.

Chapman said: "At a time of conflict in the world where there is polarisation post 9/11, the World Service's independence, impartiality and accuracy is very attractive in that environment."

The BBC said the new figures for the weekly audience were compiled from independent surveys around the globe, which show an increase of 14 million on last year's figure of 149 million.

According to the BBC, the new findings show that the World Service has 50 per cent more listeners than any comparable international broadcaster.

Global audiences to BBC World Service English language broadcasts have risen to 42 million, up from 39 million last year.

Chapman said that success was in part due to the World Service's international perspective assessing how issues affect whole continents.

"It's not the same as the journalism your local or national broadcaster would do. The fact that we have the resources, the time and the intellectual grip to do that sort of journalism is definitely a USP in the market," he said.

National radio audience gains were highest in countries such as Nigeria, which gained 3.6 million following a government ban on foreign FM broadcasters, and Nepal where the rise in listeners from 2.6 to 3.7 million may have been fuelled by recent unrest in the country.

Across the BBC's international news services — BBC World Service radio, BBC World television and the ‘international-facing' online news service bbcnews.com — more than 210 million individuals tune in weekly.

The BBC World Service is funded through Grant Aid from the Foreign Office. The grant for 2006/7 is £245 million.

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