BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks to leave the corporation at the end of the year

Peter Horrocks is standing down as director of the BBC World Service Group after five years in the job.

Horrocks (pictured, Reuters), who has worked at the BBC for 33 years, has announced he will be leaving the corporation in the new year.

The BBC said it would be advertising for Horrocks' successor.

Under Horrocks, weekly audiences for the BBC’s global news services – BBC World Service, BBC World News and bbc.com – have reached 265m. This has risen from 234m in 2008, the year before he took charge. The BBC’s aim is to increase its global weekly audience to 500m by 2022.

In the press release announcing his departure, the BBC said bbc.com/news “regularly achieves one billion page views a month [and] BBC News is the most retweeted news source in the world”.

Horrocks said: “It has been a privilege to be Director of the BBC World Service, which is loved and trusted by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

“I am hugely proud of the dedication, the creativity and the reinvention shown by my team. The World Service now has its largest ever audience, an expanding number of languages, and is modernised and transformed for a digital age.

“Having overseen this recovery and taken the World Service into the new era of licence fee funding, it is time for me to move on to my next challenge. I will miss the BBC but am confident that the BBC’s global news services are in strong shape for the future.”

BBC director general Tony Hall, said: "Peter’s remarkable career at the BBC has spanned more than three decades.  Starting as a news trainee, he established himself as the youthful editor of Public Eye before going on to lead teams that produced some of the BBC’s most important news programmes, including Newsnight and Panorama.  He also edited general election programmes before running several News departments, latterly the World Service Group.  

“Those who have worked with him know of his energy, drive, his passion for journalism and his innovation but they have also come to appreciate his editorial integrity and his deeply rooted sense of BBC values.  He leaves us as one of our most respected leaders. He is a force of nature and we will miss him.”

Director of BBC News and Current Affairs, James Harding, said: “Peter Horrocks has been a defining figure in the modern history of the BBC World Service and global news.  He has demanded the highest standards of its journalism, he has driven innovation in the ways we tell stories and deliver the news, he has opened the BBC to new voices and fresh ideas and he has presided over the extraordinary growth of the BBC’s worldwide audience.

“His sharp intellect, open-mindedness and good judgment have shaped BBC News and Current Affairs for three decades.  He has recruited and inspired hundreds of people here in the UK and around the world.  And, like few others, he has set his stamp on both the programmes and the personality of the BBC.

“Since I joined the BBC last year, Peter has been a constant source of good advice, organisational wisdom and personal support.  Of course, I respect Peter’s decision to move on, but, both personally and as an organisation, we will miss him.”  

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