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BBC World Service’s biggest expansion since the 1940s includes adding 4 Indian languages

MUMBAI: The BBC World Service is making its biggest expansion since the 1940s. After the announcement of the funding boost by the UK government last year, the BBC World Service has decided to launch 11 new language services. This includes four Indian languages.

The World Service will begin broadcasting in Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi and Punjabi. Announced today, the launch will create 157 new jobs in the region, making Delhi the BBC’s largest bureau outside the UK.

Starting in 1932 as a radio-channel for English-speakers in the British empire, the BBC World Service already broadcasts in 29 languages to 246 million people around the world weekly. This will increase to 40 languages which will include new services in Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Igbo, Korean, Pidgin, Tigrinya, and Yoruba. The move is designed to bring its independent journalism to millions of people around the world, including those in places where media freedom is under threat. The expansion will also bring more journalists on the ground in locations across the world.

The new services, following a funding boost of £289 million until 2019-20, are scheduled to be launched in 2017.

While the BBC Hindi service has been running since May 1940, the World Service currently broadcasts in Tamil, Bengali, Urdu and Nepali. Though it previously broadcast in Marathi and Gujarati, the services were closed in the 1940s and 1950s.

The BBC World Service will also expand its digital services. It will offer more mobile and video content and a greater social media presence. and new ways of reaching its audience around the globe. It will also invest in World Service English, with new programmes, more original journalism, and a broader agenda.

The service will broadcast short-wave and medium-wave radio programmes aimed at audiences in the Korean Peninsula, supplemented by online and social media content. Following the success of the Facebook-only ‘pop-up’ service launched in 2014, the BBC also goes live today with a full digital service in Thai. It will also produce extended news bulletins in Russian, with regionalised versions for surrounding countries.

BBC World Service will enhance its television services across Africa, including over 30 new TV programmes for partner broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa.