Even though its director believes that recent times have not been the easiest for international news services , BBC Global News has reported a steady rise in audience by 14 million to 239 million in 2012, up 6% from last year.
The rise had been driven primarily by the performance of BBC Arabic and BBC Persian services. As tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa unfolded, the BBC claimed that audiences increasingly turned to the corporation for independent news they could trust.
In the past year, the BBC's Arabic Service witnessed a record rise in audiences with 25 million adults weekly tuning in and BBC Persian TV doubled its reach in Iran, with an audience of 6 million people, despite facing a campaign of censorship and intimidation by the Iranian authorities.
Making the audience rise more impressive, insisted Peter Horrocks director BBC Global News, was that the challenges BBC journalists faced had never been so severe or varied. These included increased harassment and intimidation to persistent efforts to censor BBC content. Furthermore Horrocks alluded to ever more intensifying global competition, as well as significant cuts to funding leading to the organisation undergoing “disrupting and painful change” lessening the BBC's ability to take journalism into some countries.
“The figures are cause for cautious confidence but certainly not complacency,” Horrocks said. “We still have significant challenges ahead, including the need for BBC World Service to make additional savings and the integration of our domestic and international news operations…With the Chinese, Russian and Iranian governments all pumping money into journalism designed to give their own perspective on the world, there's no room for complacency. But the figures do underline the lasting importance of our international mission.”