Peter Horrocks
The director of the BBC World Service outlined a new international strategy yesterday as the broadcaster seeks to cope with the prospect of severe funding cuts.

Speaking at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Peter Horrocks said the "Becoming More Global" strategy will involve integrating domestic and foreign news operations and approaching its journalism in a more "multilingual" and "multimedia" way.

"We have an increasingly bilingual workforce, able to operate in English and their own language. They are encouraged to report for TV, radio and online. So we ask them to be multimedia and multilingual.

"Those are the new watchwords at the heart of the strategy for BBC Global News in the years ahead."

Integration plans include bringing together the BBC's domestic and foreign-language news staff under one roof as part of the redevelopment of Broadcasting House in central London.

"We won't just be sticking the two teams together and leaving things as they are though. We are working on imaginative plans to blend the teams to get the best from them.

"They will be able to share knowledge and we will make sure that the best editorial talent has the widest range of outlets to broadcast and publish to.

"Our newsroom will be full of a mix of talent from around the world. That's what 'Becoming More Global' means."

Discussing the motivations behind the forthcoming organisational and structural changes, Horrocks acknowledged the broadcaster was operating "in a very tight financial environment" and admitted "one obvious reason, although a minor one, is efficiency."

Budget cuts introduced in last year's comprehensive spending review are expected to result in the loss of 650 jobs at the World Service and cost 30 million of its 180 millions listeners worldwide.

Under the plans, funding of the service will be transferred from the Foreign Office in 2014, and come under the license fee along with the BBC's domestic news costs, with the broadcaster needing to make £67 million worth of savings over the next four years.

But Horrocks said the changes planned for BBC Global News were not financially motivated, but were taking place "because the BBC's global and impartial perspective is our greatest competitive advantage."

"We believe the unique advantages in having a workforce drawn from 27 different language groups supplementing our renowned English-language newsgathering operations gives us an advantage few other international news organisations can match."

He praised the international news efforts of other broadcasters, including CNN, which he complimented for its news partnerships in India and Turkey and for allowing content to flow back from outside of the US, and Al Jazeera, which he said had shaken off "the burden of the initial reputation that Al Jazeera Arabic attracted" with the launch of its English-language service and recent coverage of uprisings across the Arab world.

He also acknowledged the fledgling "globalism" of some UK print outfits, including the Daily Mail, which he said had set out to appeal to a global English audience, and the Guardian, which launched a significant new US venture earlier this month.

But, he added, "none of these organisations has set out to produce a fully global agenda, in the way I am defining".

The spectre of funding cuts was never far away however, and Horrocks acknowledged the BBC would need to establish new partnerships and ways of working in order to realise its planned "fully global agenda" over the next few years.

"We can no longer do it within our own walls. We need to network with our audience and we need to network with partner news organisations. We can no longer be fortress BBC. And that requires some dramatic changes in our mindset.

"We need to change to serve our audiences better and we need to change, as we can no longer afford not to."

Image by Dinara Dultaeva. See more on Twitter and on her blog.

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