The BBC‘s World Service is respected as a source of reliable, unbiased journalism in countries around the world, but the corporation is now hoping to expand its influence in countries where freedom of speech and of the press is often stifled.
Outlining his vision for the future of the organisation today, the BBC’s director-general Tony Hall stressed that the World Service would not only continue to serve audiences abroad, but would introduce new services in countries where state influence over the media curtails true freedom of speech.
“In many parts of the world the media is less free than it was ten years ago, most obviously in Russia, but also in places like Turkey or Thailand,” reads a report detailing plans for the organisation’s future.
The report also noted that the state-sponsored new organisations of many countries have experienced enormous growth in recent years, namechecking Al Jazeera, China Central Television and Russia Today. “The service offered by these organisations can be of high quality, but reflects a particular world-view and the agenda of its backers,” it says.
The BBC has several proposals that seem to purposefully target countries with poor records of press freedom.
One investment the Beeb is considering would be aimed at establishing a bigger digital presence in Russia through a new service that would exist on platforms like YouTube or Rutube (the Russian equivalent). It also wants to assess the feasibility of launching a satellite TV channel for the company.
Another idea suggested by the corporation is a daily new programme that would be be delivered on short wave seven days to North Korea. It also wants to deliver news to Ethiopia and Eritrea on short and medium wave.
All four countries are in the bottom forty nations of Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, with North Korea and Eritrea coming in last.