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The BBC World Service and British Soft Power in Perspective

25 June 2011, 14:00 - 17:00
Birkbeck College, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, WC1E 7HX


2.00-3.20pm                The Political Economy of Soft Power

How does the BBC World Service balance the challenges of funding cuts with rapid changes in both international broadcasting and new social media? How does the British government value and perceive the World Service within its projection of Britain’s ‘Soft Power’?

Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC World Service, in discussion with

Jean Seaton, Official historian of the BBC, Professor of Media History at Westminster University


3.40-5.00pm                Digital Diplomacy and the Arab Spring

Satellite broadcasters and internet media are playing key roles in changes in the Middle East. Is the BBC World Service successfully negotiating the move from radio to TV and interactive internet media? As audiences and agenda shift, can the BBC compete with Al Jazeera and others?

Roger Hardy, former Middle East and Islamic affairs analyst, BBC World Service; author of The Muslim Revolt: A Journey through Political Islam; visiting fellow at the LSE

Marie Gillespie, Professor of Sociology, The Open University, expert on Arab media and ‘digital diplomacy’

David Styan, Department of Politics, Birkbeck College


  •  Both sessions will be followed by an audience debate
  • 5.00-6.00, Drinks reception

The seminar is aimed at policy-makers, journalists, academics and students. It is organised by Birkbeck College’s Centre for the Study of British Politics and Public Life in partnership with the Communication and Media Research Institute at University of Westminster, and the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change ( at the Open University.

The event is free, to reserve a place email:

More details:

Cross theme reference: 
Cultures of Diplomacy