BBC World Service marks its 80th anniversary today with special live programming.

Posted: 29 Feb 2012   Print   Send a link
BBC World Service press release, 28 Feb 2012: "Audiences are to be given unprecedented behind the scenes access as part of a special day of live programming on February 29, to mark the BBC World Service's 80th birthday. Highlights from the day will include a special global audience with Sir David Attenborough and The Strand - the WS global arts programme - will be edited by guest artist and music producer William Orbit. Audiences will be able to join a special debate about what they want from the World Service, both on air, online and across social media forums. (#bbcws80) The day will give audiences around the world a unique insight into production of their favourite programmes and multilingual videos will be produced of all the broadcasts throughout the day online at"

BBC World Service Newshour, 29 Feb 2012: "Lyse Doucet chairs a debate with a panel of renowned journalists and broadcast executives on the future of international broadcasting and on what audiences expect from international news providers. The debate will include a critical examination of the current state of the global news market and will look at the varying perspectives of some of the leading news providers. We will have a live audience with us in London who will contribute their questions and thoughts to the debate. The programme will also include some special interviews about the impact the BBC World Service has had on some of our listeners, as well as some guests from the worlds of comedy and music. Panelists include: Former Al-Jazeera Director Wadah Khanfar, Editor-in-Chief of RT (formerly Russia Today) Margarita Simonyan." Today (29 Feb) at 2105 UTC.

See also the BBC World Service 80th anniversary web page. Live video of today's events at

BBC News, 29 Feb 2012: "The BBC World Service has been housed in Bush House since 1940. By summer it will be empty as its 27 language services relocate to Broadcasting House in the West End of London. To coincide with this week's 80th anniversary celebrations of the World Service, staff members past and present have been reminiscing about their time spent in the iconic building." With video.

BBC News, 28 Feb 2012: "The BBC World Service - which marks its 80th birthday on Wednesday - was broadcast only on shortwave back in 1932. Today, audiences on FM, digital radio and the internet are growing fast while shortwave is in decline, but for millions it remains a lifeline. Shortwave listeners catch a signal that travels thousands of miles across international boundaries, sometimes eluding censors, by bouncing off the turbulent gases of the ionosphere, the layers of electrified gas several hundred kilometres above the earth. It's a signal that can be capricious - subject to interference from electrical storms and other atmospheric disturbances and, mysteriously, often best at sunrise or sunset. But even when heard against a background of electronic warbling, whistling and hissing, shortwave has reliably delivered the news for 80 years. Four listeners tell their stories."

The Telegraph, 28 Feb 2012, editorial: "Often, it has appeared that Britain does not value the World Service’s work. After a succession of budget cuts, the Foreign Office has palmed off its future funding on the BBC, which shows little appreciable zeal for its work. Celebrations of the anniversary have been shoddily organised, with former staff excluded to make space for BBC mandarins. The service’s short-wave transmissions are being cut back, despite objections. This is, we believe, alarmingly short-sighted. At a time when other nations are scrambling to create media outlets to present their values to the world, Britain already has the pre-eminent example. We trust that this anniversary – and the move from Bush House to Broadcasting House – will be accompanied by a new appreciation of, and dedication of resources to, the World Service’s noble work."