BBC World Service radio attracts record listeners

LONDON, May 15, 2006 (AFP) – Record numbers of radio listeners are tuning into the BBC World Service, the public broadcaster said on Monday. The Service is attracting an average of 163 million listeners per week to its 33 language services during 2006, up from 149 million last year.

The new high beats a previous weekly record high of 153 million listeners, achieved in 2001, the British Broadcasting Corporation said.

The rise comes despite the BBC axing 10 of its foreign language radio services in October last year, largely in former Communist Europe.

Global weekly audiences to the Service’s English language broadcasts have risen to 42 million listeners from 39 million in 2005.

Audience figures are significantly up in Nigeria, Indonesia, Kenya, India and Nepal, the BBC said.

Recent political unrest in Nepal has pushed the number of listeners up to 3.7 million from 2.6 million last year.

“This record-breaking audience is an outstanding achievement against the background of fierce competition, fast-developing technology and rapidly changing audience demands in many media markets,” BBC World Service director Nigel Chapman s