BBC extends global aud by 6%

Weekly audience rose by 14 million to 239 million

LONDON — The BBC’s global weekly audience rose by 14 million to 239 million in the past 12 months, up 6% from last year, according to the pubcaster’s own estimate.

The uptick has been driven primarily by the performance of the BBC’s Arabic and Persian services where local populations involved in the Arab Spring turned to the BBC for news free from state interference.

The past year has seen record audiences for the BBC’s Arabic Services, with 25 million adults a week turning in, said the pubcaster. BBC Persian TV doubled its reach in Iran, with an audience of 16 million people, despite attempts to jam the broadcasts by the Iranian authorities.

The global audiences for BBC World Service, BBC World News and bbc.com were 145 million for radio (down 1% this year), 97 million for television (up 13% including a 45% increase in BBC World Service TV platforms) and 30 million for online (including a 20% increase for BBC World Service online). The bbc.com mobile site reached 2.7 million unique users per week, a 30% increase from 2011.

Peter Horrocks, BBC director of global news, said the figures “are cause for cautious confidence but certainly not complacency.”

In common with all parts of the BBC, the BBC World Service is making savings and broadcasts to some parts of Eastern Europe have ceased. Around 650 jobs have been lost and an estimated 30 million listeners.

Horrocks said the BBC’s global aud would have been higher if the 16% cut in its budget imposed by the government in 2011 had not “lessened the BBC’s ability to take our journalism into some countries.”