INDEPENDENT NEWS

British PM Hails 75 Years Of BBC World Service

Published: Thu 20 Dec 2007 07:47 AM
PM hails 75 years of World Service
The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the BBC World Service as it celebrates its 75th birthday today.
In a recorded message aired today, the PM praised the broadcaster's "integrity, truth and freedom of speech". The service is the world's best known and most respected voice and is a credit to the whole country, he said.
The PM said:
"I am honoured to be asked to mark the 75th birthday of the world's best-known and most respected voice in international broadcasting - the BBC World Service.
"The World Service's reputation for integrity, truth and freedom of speech - values that motivate journalists around the world - is a credit both to the BBC and the UK as a whole. So I want to thank you publicly for the work you do."
The World Service began in 1932 as a way to reach English speakers in the furthest parts of the British Empire. It now broadcasts in 32 languages around the world and has a weekly audience of more than 180m people.
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FULL MESSAGE
The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the BBC World Service as it celebrates its 75th birthday today.
PM Message for the World Service 75th anniversary
I am honoured to be asked to mark the 75th birthday of the world's best-known and most respected voice in international broadcasting - the BBC World Service.
The World Service's reputation for integrity, truth and freedom of speech - values that motivate journalists around the world - is a credit both to the BBC and the UK as a whole. So I want to thank you publicly for the work you do.
I know the World Service achieved record listening figures last year - 183 million listeners, listening in 32 different languages.
And I know that it has moved with the times - broadcasting and reporting online in languages from Arabic to Urdu, from Russian to Vietnamese. The service is truly a beacon for many Brits abroad and people of all nationalities.
And I am delighted that as a government we have been able to help the World Service develop exciting new plans for a BBC Arabic TV service, and a new BBC Farsi channel for Iran.
The World Service also exemplifies the freedom of opinion and debate that we hold dear, through projects like the training and assistance that the World Service trust offers to afghan journalists and presenters.
We should be truly proud of that work, which reinforces the World Service's founding values in such challenging circumstances.
It has been said that the first 400 years of any institution are always the hardest. Over the last 75 years, I am glad to say that World Service reporters, journalists, technicians and the whole staff have proved that wrong time and time again. Congratulations to them, and I look forward to another successful 75 years.
ENDS
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