By Ogova Ondego
Published February 21, 2018
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has on February 19, 2018 launched services in Yoruba and Igbo in Nigeria.
Though funded by the British Government, BBC says the editorial agenda of the new service “will reflect not only balanced impartial news, but also a rich mix of trending topics, sports, entertainment, business, health, education and women.”
While the Yoruba service targets south west Nigeria, Benin and Togo as well as other parts of the Diaspora, the Igbo service is mainly for audiences in eastern and south-eastern Nigeria as well as the large Igbo speaking Diaspora.
“These fully digital services will include exciting short format audio, video, graphics and illustrations,” says a media statement issued by Marina Forsythe, Communications Lead and Publicist for BBC World Service Group Communications. “Twice daily, the teams will produce an episode of BBC Minute – keeping people in touch with the world in 60 seconds.”
BBC says the Yoruba and Igbo services shall carry “original content through our network of reporters on variety of stories and issues that matter to local people and resonate across the region.”
Peter Okwoche, Editorial Lead on the project, says, “Both services will concentrate on original journalism from their target regions but will also feature stories from Africa and the main global stories. BBC Igbo and Yoruba will provide a platform for debate on the main issues of interest to audiences and give voices to a wide spectrum of people. There will also be a strong focus on women.”
“Digital content created daily for the website and social media platforms,” BBC says, “will cover a broad agenda with a strong focus on audience interactivity. This is in keeping with the BBC News editorial strategy of not only being news providers but also providing enriching analysis, explainers and features.”
Saying “Delivering content and engaging with the Igbo and Yoruba audiences in their mother tongues is authentic, exciting and refreshing,” Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, Head of West Africa, says “he BBC is passionate about original journalism that adds value . ..These platforms will deliver independent, objective and original news to meet the needs of our audiences in Nigeria and West Africa.”
BBC World Service, that is reported to be reaching a global audience of 346 million weekly on radio, TV, and online, appears to be guided by the vision of Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa who is quoted to have observed, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
The launch of the Igbo and Yoruba services has been made possible with a £291 million grant from the British Government that also facilitated the launch of 10 other services in Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Gujarati, Korean, Marathi, Pidgin, Punjabi, Serbian, Telugu and Tigrinya.
As Nigerian law does not allow direct transmission of content by foreign broadcaster, Okwoche explains in a BBC broadcast, the BBC Yoruba and BBC Igbo services are mainly carried out online but their content is aired by partner stations like Anambra Broadcasting Station, Blaze FM, Odenigbo FM, Imo Broadcasting Corporation-Orient FM, Solid FM and Telemagic group that relay The Igbo Minute and Adaba FM, Lagelu FM, Kwara Radio and OSBC Radio that air The Yoruba Minute.
Forsythe says BBC Africa hub brings together the production of multilingual content about the continent on radio, on TV and online as it delivers content in English, French, Hausa, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Somali, Kiswahili, Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Igbo, Pidgin, Tigrinya and Yoruba.