BBC World Service to launch teenage news bulletin
The is developing a global version of Radio 1's teenage news bulletin Newsbeat as part of an £8m attempt to gain a younger overseas audience.
Peter Horrocks, the BBC's director of global news, will tell staff on Tuesday that radio will remain the bedrock of the World Service, which sits alongside the BBC's World News television channel and News online.
But Horrocks will outline a range of new investments, including an African edition of the BBC News website and video news bulletins for Burma. World Service strands such as Witness will be turned into multilingual video brands and its programmes will be made available internationally on iPlayer.
Pilot editions of a global version of Newsbeat, the award-winning news programme that began on Radio 1 in 1973, are being developed in African English, Swahili, Urdu, and Pashto and Dari for . A few minutes long, they will have a style and agenda that appeals to young listeners, according to the BBC.
The World Service's budget of £245m for the forthcoming year is £6.5m higher than the previous year, with an extra £1.5m of investment to come through cost savings. This budget increase coincides with the BBC taking over responsibility for World Service funding, which from 1 April will come from the licence fee rather than a direct Foreign Office grant.
Horrocks said the World Service had been dealt a "tough hand" by government cuts but said the "drumbeat of editorial cuts had stopped". About 550 jobs were lost as part of the government's comprehensive spending cuts in 2011.
He said there would be no editorial job losses in the coming year, but that more efficiencies would need to be found after that, with the BBC facing across-the-board cuts of 16% after the flat licence fee settlement with the government in 2010.
"We know from the competition we have got from al-Jazeera and the Chinese that we have got to invest in the future," he told the Guardian before Tuesday's speech.
Horrocks rejected criticism from MPs and the National Union of Journalists that the plan to introduce advertising and sponsorship to the World Service would threaten its impartiality.
"The audience around the world are completely relaxed about us taking advertising," he said. "The World News channel has had advertising for the last 20 years and is completely of the standard and values that all of BBC news and the World Service adopts."
Horrocks will tell staff that the service's increased commercialisation – or "top-up funding" – will enable the launch of extra services without increasing costs to the licence fee payer. He will describe the cuts previously imposed by the government as a spur to innovation and creativity.
The BBC's director general Tony Hall has said he wants the BBC's global reach to double by 2022 to 500 million. The World Service has an audience of 192 million at present.