Radio Pyongyang? BBC News should broadcast in North Korea, says the man who wrote the report on its future

 

Media Editor

The BBC has been advised to establish a news service that broadcasts to Kim Jong Un’s North Korea in a specially commissioned report on the future of the BBC news division.

The report’s author, Sir Howard Stringer, the former head of the Sony Corporation, calls on the BBC to overcome problems that have previously prevented it from broadcasting to the secretive nation where receiving foreign news media is treated as a criminal offence. “Although there are significant obstacles put in place by the government, an impartial, accurate news service would be enormously valuable to the people of North Korea,” he wrote.

Sir Howard was asked by the BBC News Director James Harding to suggest ways in which the BBC could increase its global reach to meet a target, set by Director General Lord Hall, of serving 500m people worldwide by 2022.

His ideas included plans to help programmes such as Countryfile, The One Show and Newsround find an international audience. He suggested that the BBC should explore opportunities in Ethiopia and North Korea.

“North Korea remains one of the least open countries in the world,” he said. “Given the lengths the government goes to in order to block outside media, the BBC needs to continue to consider how it could best serve the population, either with a news service on radio or digital or through other BBC services such as English language teaching.”

For more than two years the BBC has faced calls in Parliament for it to open a North Korean service but the broadcaster, which recently inherited responsibility for the BBC World Service budget from the Foreign Office, has so far declined to do so.

Sir Howard said the BBC should be looking to expand its footprint with a “multi-genre channel” in Africa.

He said that the BBC could expect to reach five million Ethiopians a week if it opened a service targeted at that country, suggesting that the broadcaster should aim to serve the audience via mobiles. “With at least 93 million people, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa. A service in the national language Amharic, could reach a significant number.”

Sir Howard claimed that the BBC was not realising the full potential of its “near-news brands” and called for more programmes to be given an international outlet, following the example of the youth radio brand Newsbeat, which was recently given a global edition.

“Two [programmes] that stand out are The One Show, rightly known for its mix of celebrity, entertainment and current affairs, and Countryfile,” he wrote.

“In addition, the BBC should look for more opportunities to produce Newsround internationally. Newsround is a unique proposition, offering comprehensive coverage of world news tailored to six to 12-year-olds. In each case, it would be cost-effective to reversion films produced for the domestic outlet in different languages and to work with a local partner to build the content around those films.”

BBC News currently reaches around 256 million a week, including around 145 million radio listeners, around 112 million television viewers and 40 million online users.

He said the BBC, with a digital audience of around 150 million, was “punching well below its weight in the digital world” and needed to be more adventurous.

“This is more than CNN but still less than Buzzfeed’s peak of 160 million, and only the same as the MailOnline’s 150 million monthly audience in English alone. Given Buzzfeed, for example, was only founded in 2006, this raises the question of why the BBC’s global digital reach is not more significant.”

He suggested that the BBC website’s “neutral tone” was hindering its growth. “When looking at the competition online, it is clear that the sites that are growing quickly – whether it is Vice or Buzzfeed or Upworthy – are the ones that have a really distinctive character,” he said.

Liliane Landor, Acting Director of BBC World Service Group, said: “We do not regard this as a blueprint and the ideas are there to pick and choose from, but they will all help open up the debate about how best we can serve our audiences. There is a real, and gratifying, overlap between our thinking and many of the ideas in the report, some of which we are already embracing.”

News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
fashionLidl to launch a new affordable fashion range
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Social Advertising Manager / Social Media Manager

£Excellent + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Social Advertising Manager / Social Med...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment