Little is known about why and how certain diaspora groups connect with their home countries via the BBC World Service (BBCWS). With an overall audience of 180 million across its radio, TV and online services, many praise the objectivity of BBCWS and increasing use is made of the opportunities for public debate offered by the international and transnational 'conversations' it facilitates. In many regions it is the single most trusted information source, and at times of political crisis or ecological disaster, it has often been a lifeline. Its authoritative reach across national and diasporic boundaries may seem paradoxical, given that is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has a remit to build Britain's reputation and influence abroad. Nevertheless, despite its international profile, astonishingly little research exists on the historical and contemporary work of cultural brokerage and diplomacy performed by BBCWS.
Tuning In plugs this gap by bringing together a community of inter-disciplinary researchers and specialists in a dynamic evaluation of the BBC World Service. It delivers an analysis of the institution from its origins in 1932 right up to the present day and examines the critical role played by BBCWS in mediating the shifting cultural, technological and geopolitical challenges to diaspora sensibilities, identities and discourses. From the prewar Empire Service on shortwave to the tri-media World Service of today, Tuning In documents how the BBC has, over eighty years, been a pivotal contact zone for diaspora engagement.