BBC to Launch Yoruba, Igbo News Services

Taibat Shittu/

The British Broadcasting Corporation will soon introduce Yoruba and Igbo news services.

These will form part of a 12 new language services the BBC plans to launch into late 2018, as part of a £289 million investment announced last November.

Later this year, it will offer Serbian as well. The ultimate goal is to double the BBC’s current worldwide reach to 500 million people by 2022.

The company signposted its foray into this unusual territory with Monday’s launch of a full-fledged news service delivered in Nigerian Pidgin.

“Whenever you talk to people about the BBC doing a Pidgin service, they think it’s a joke — Pidgin is a humorous language spoken across many borders, with many variations. It’s a language we communicate and joke with,” digital lead for BBC Africa Miriam Quansah told NiemanLab, last week.

She added: “It’s spoken by so many people, but nobody ever thought an international broadcaster based in the U.K. would be prepared to offer news content in it.”

Pidgin is a corrupted form of English spoken widely both in Nigeria and in countries across West and Central Africa.

Locally staffed and with the spoken nature of the language in mind, BBC Pidgin’s offerings will include minute-long audio news updates and daily news videos.

The stories will represent a carefully honed combination, such as Nigeria-specific stories and stories from the wider region

It will also feature tailored translations of global news, spanning straight news, explainers, inspirational features, and shareable quick hits.

Before the yesterday’s launch, the team was able to collect feedback from various sources, Including universities in Nigeria and Ghana and Cameroon.

The BBC Hausa service is already very popular with listeners in the northern part of Nigeria.