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BBC World Service

Volume 641: debated on Monday 14 May 2018

The BBC Chairman and I have agreed the “Objectives, Priorities and Targets” (OPTs) for the BBC World Service Licence. The OPTs have been set for a five-year period 2017 to 2022. The licence can be found on the BBC website:

The BBC World Service is the world’s largest international broadcaster, broadcasting news, documentaries and discussions in 42 languages. The World Service continues to provide insight and fresh perspective across the major global stories of the year. The total weekly reach of the World Service in 2016-17 was a record 346 million (up from 320 million in 2015-16) and the BBC remains on track to achieve its ambition to reach a global audience of 500 million by 2022.

While many broadcasters are increasingly partisan, people around the world have confidence in the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC’s journalism. The BBC World Service is one of the most influential and trusted of British institutions and it is instrumental in helping to promote Britain and our values around the world. The FCO will continue to support them to enhance the lives of millions of people, making high-quality independent news and analysis accessible in markets of need.

The objectives for the World Service contribute to the fulfilment of the mission and the promotion of the BBC’s public purposes, including providing high-quality news coverage; current affairs; and factual programming to international audiences, which is firmly based on British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness. The objectives focus on four key areas:

maximising the reach of all language services;

protecting the BBC World Service’s position as the most trusted provider of accurate and independent international news;

delivering essential news and content that allows audiences to engage in democratic processes as informed citizens, and reflects the values and culture of the United Kingdom to the world; and

demonstrating value for money and transparency, seeking alternative sources of funding where appropriate.

The BBC will report annually against the objectives, priorities and targets I have agreed with the BBC Board. This will include assessment of progress against quantitative targets.

I will meet the BBC Chair (or their nominated representatives) annually to discuss the services, review the performance report, and consider any adjustments that need to be made, including targets. If the BBC Chair and I agree, we may also consider adjustments to services outside this timing, in response to significant changes in market conditions or world events.