The BBC is said to be expanding its Australian operation in response to the growing presence of The Guardian and Mail Online in the country.
BBC World, which is separate entity to the domestic, licence fee-funded operation, has announced it is extending coverage Down Under (picture, Reuters) by “launching a dedicated Australian news service on BBC.com” from this month. It has also announced a number of new programmes “specially curated for an Australian audience”.
BBC News has appointed a new Australia online editor, Wendy Frew, formerly chief of staff at the Sydney Morning Herald. She is joined on the Australia team by three other journalists.
BBC Global News Limited director of sales and marketing Chris Davies described Australia as a “priority market”.
Media industry website Mumbrella reports that the BBC – whose ratings “often pulling audience of more than 1.5m” – has “slipped backwards in the rankings in recent months as other international competitors including The Guardian, Daily Mail Australia and even US viral content site Buzzfeed have entered the Australian market”.
Mumbrella quotes director of advertising and brand partnerships Alistair McEwan as saying: “Where we see newer entrants like The Guardian and Daily Mail come in they have taken a very different business model and position…
“They are ostensibly competing for domestic news and that’s not the space we want to occupy, we want to create an enhanced news offering in a way that they will value and that connects local news to an international perspective and global perspective really.
“As we look to identify a unique position for the BBC, and how we look to deliver our core mission which is to deliver an international news report and provide to Australians what they value.”
The BBC is aiming to build its global audience to 50m 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”.