BBC to start New Radio service for Ethiopia and Eritrea



As part of BBC’s plan of expansion of the World Service, including its first broadcasts into North Korea, the BBC is to start a “A news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short wave radio”. The Plan did not detail if the Corporation is going to transmit in the countries working languages Amharic and Tigregna.

In a speech, Director General Tony Hall will announce the “Open BBC” plan, which will also include a network of 100 “public service reporters” shared with local news providers.

The broadcaster is laying out its own vision for the future ahead of Royal Charter renewal next year.

Alongside its vision for local news, the BBC is planning to enhance the World Service output, including:

  • A satellite TV service for Russian speakers or a larger digital offering on platforms such as YouTube and its Russian equivalent, Rutube
  • A daily news programme for North Korea, broadcast on short wave radio
  • BBC Arabic Service to offer more regional content, with increased coverage of North Africa and the Middle East
  • A news service for Ethiopia and Eritrea on medium wave and short wave radio

The World Service proposals are part of a running skirmish with state-sponsored news organisations worldwide, including Al-Jazeera, China Central Television (CCTV) and RT (previously Russia Today), which have huge resources at their disposal and now challenge for viewers in the UK.

Kim Jong un and a fighter jet
The shortwave news bulletin will provide information to millions of North Korea. Credit: Reuters

The corporation is likely to ask the government for funds for the World Servive – cash it will match with its own raised through commerical enterprises. Traditionally the service has seen some backing from the Foreign Office to help the UK project its “soft power” influence across the globe.

Earlier this year the BBC’s Future of News report warned:

In many parts of the world, there is not more free expression but less. The need for the BBC World Service… to provide independent, reliable information to people who sorely need it is growing.


Other proposals in the Director General’s vision include a children’s only iPlayer and more collaborative partnerships with the likes of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Tate and the Science Museum.

Director general Tony Hall says the aim is to turn the BBC into “an open platform for British creativity”.