Record numbers tune into BBC coverage of Ukraine war, broadcaster says

The BBC estimates 280 million people watched the unfolding of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ellie Iorizzo
Wednesday 30 March 2022 13:05 BST
Record numbers tuning into BBC coverage of Ukraine war, broadcaster says (Nicholas Ansell/PA)
Record numbers tuning into BBC coverage of Ukraine war, broadcaster says (Nicholas Ansell/PA)

BBC Director-General Tim Davie has said the BBC is “performing an indispensable role delivering impartial news around the world” as record numbers tune in to Ukraine coverage.

During the first week of the conflict, an estimated 280 million people from the UK and around the world watched the BBC’s online news output, the broadcaster has said.

The corporation said it expects to meet its goal of reaching 500 million people outside of the UK each week and so is “accelerating the digital transformation of the World Service”.

The figures were released by the broadcaster in its annual plan for 2022/23.

Davie said: “The BBC is performing an indispensable role delivering impartial news around the world, with 456 million people using our services globally every week and growing.  

“This annual plan shows significant progress has been made to reform the BBC, but we will continue to transform the organisation to provide value for all audiences in the digital age.” 

The BBC is the UK’s best-known cultural export with 60% awareness across the world, the corporation said.

Additionally, more than 90% of adults in the UK used the BBC each week across the last 12 months.

The foreword of the annual plan also referenced the licence fee, which is due to remain frozen at its current price of £159 for two years, as announced by Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), in January.

The licence fee will then rise in line with inflation for the following four years.

“While we recognise the licence fee is a privilege, this is a disappointing outcome at a time of high inflation and media super-inflation,” the annual plan said.

It added: “Over the longer term, we will need to implement more radical changes to continue to provide value to all audiences and expect to publish details of the first phase of these before the summer.

“Last, but not least, we look forward to the BBC’s centenary in October when we celebrate 100 years of informing, educating and entertaining the UK and the world, and look forward to the BBC’s next 100 years.”

Richard Sharp, BBC chairman, added: “This annual plan shows the need for truthful, independent news and uniquely British content, is needed more than ever. 

“Our plan highlights the challenges and opportunities in the media market.

“We will continue driving changes to our public service and commercial operations to fulfil our duty.”

The BBC revealed it will also be rolling out a new BBC News app, and introducing a new target for 25% of its staff to come from low socio-economic backgrounds by 2027, to better reflect “the audiences we serve” as part of their plans.

Alongside the annual report the corporation announced a series of appointments to the board overseeing BBC Studios.

The BBC Commercial Board (formerly known as BBC Commercial Holdings Board), will, the corporation said, for the first time feature a “majority of external non-executive directors, together bringing commercial, financial and digital experience and deep global expertise across media and technology”.

Sir Damon Buffini has been appointed chairman while Bhav Singh and Gunjan Bhow join as non-executive directors.

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