Nigel Chapman steps down as World Service director

Director of the BBC World Service Nigel Chapman is leaving the corporation after 31 years to become chief executive of children’s charity Plan International.

He has been director of the World Service since 2004 and has previously been director of BBC Online and controller of English Regions. Chapman has also worked as a producer and editor on a number of news and current affairs programmes.

BBC director of global news Richard Sambrook said today in a message to staff: ‘I’d like to pay tribute to the huge contribution Nigel has made to the BBC – and in particular to the World Service over the last eight years.

“He has overseen the biggest restructuring of the service since it was launched and the move into language television and the strengthening of our internet presence. The World Service today is stronger than when he joined it and enjoys the largest audience it has ever had – a fitting tribute to his hard work and commitment.”

He said the BBC is to advertise for a successor.

In a separate note to staff, Chapman said: ‘There is never a perfect time to leave something as fascinating and all-consuming as the World Service. There is always more to do: new audience demands to meet, new services to launch and existing ones to improve.

“We will soon launch our Persian Television service and extend our Arabic TV to a full 24/7 schedule. There is, I know, a huge amount of work going on to modernise the look and feel of our websites, and keep our outstanding radio programmes fresh and attractive to our record-breaking audiences.”

Explaining his decision to leave, he said: “Our programmes about the developing world in particular have kindled a growing personal interest in international development issues. Visits to Africa and South Asia have brought these issues to life.

“The work of the World Service Trust has also been very instrumental in fuelling these interests. I have seen first hand the wonderful impact of its work as well as the enormous influence the World Service as a whole has in the world’s poorest countries.

“Hence my decision to leave the BBC after more than thirty years and move full time into the charity sector as the CEO of Plan International, one of the world’s biggest and oldest charities working directly with children and their families to combat poverty in almost 50 countries.”

The World Service currently claims to have 182m listeners a week, compared to 146m in 2004.

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