The British Broadcasting Corporation is rolling out more language services across the African continent in what is its biggest expansion since the 1940’s. The global broadcast house has announced plans to introduce new non-English news services, including Pidgin, Igbo and Yoruba.
The BBC World Service is shaping up for the future. It has scaled back its radio operations in certain parts of the world, where young people prefer to get their information from modern media; in some cases, it has ended language service transmissions. However, its African audience hasn’t shown any significant signs of turning their backs on the broadcaster. In fact, the continent’s radio enthusiasts appear to be largely responsible for its survival. The BBC Media Centre’s Global Audience Measure (GAM) reported in April that its weekly audience had grown to 348 million worldwide for the year 2015/2016; a breakdown of the figure shows that Nigeria contributed the second largest number to the BBC’s worldwide audience, with about 35 million listeners per week.
Apart from the new Nigerian language services, the BBC will also be paying more attention to its audience in Ethiopia and Eritrea, with broadcasts in Amharic, Afraan Oromo and Tigrinya to be transmitted to that corner of East Africa.
The BBC already has one language service targeted at a largely Nigerian listenership. Its Hausa service, which covers a big swath of West Africa, has proved to be quite successful, with over 23 million people tuning in on various platforms every week. The British broadcaster now seems bent on making the most of its enduring presence on the airwaves in the region.
There will also be more online content, with a new digital mobile offer for Nigeria, and a greater social media presence being promised.
The BBC hopes to get the new projects working as part of its plan to reach 500 million people by the year 2022.