BBC World Service Television
Broadcast areaWorldwide
HeadquartersBBC Television Centre
Picture format576i (4:3 SDTV)
Launched11 March 1991; 33 years ago (1991-03-11)[1]
ReplacedBBC TV Europe
Closed26 January 1995; 29 years ago (1995-01-26)
Replaced byBBC World
BBC Prime

BBC World Service Television, often abbreviated to WSTV (World Service Television), was the name of two BBC international satellite television channels between 1991 and 1995. It was the BBC's first foray into worldwide television broadcasting. In Europe, it was the successor to BBC TV Europe, which it replaced on 11 March 1991.[1] The service was also launched in Asia as a 24-hour news and information service with minor differences, a precursor to BBC World News, launched on 14 October 1991.[2]

Unlike the BBC World Service at the time, it was not funded by the British government through a grant-in-aid.[3] Instead, it was funded either by subscription or by commercial advertising, with advertisements inserted locally by individual cable or satellite providers. News headlines, trailers and other updates, known as "break fillers", were inserted to fill gaps in cases where no commercials were broadcast by the local provider.



In Europe, BBC WSTV replaced BBC TV Europe on 11 March 1991 as the BBC's subscription-funded entertainment service.[2] Like BBC TV Europe, it was a mix of BBC1 and BBC2. However, in place of BBC TV Europe's near-continuous direct rebroadcast of BBC1 and schedule pattern timed to UK time (GMT/BST), it had a schedule pattern more synchronised to Central European Time and many of its first-run programmes were timeshifted to more suitable times for viewing in CET, as well as showing specially commissioned World Service News bulletins from Television Centre.[4] The BBC World Service News studio looked like the BBC's domestic news, though with different graphics and an on-screen logo. The station also broadcast its own Children's BBC junctions from Presentation Studio A.

Outside Europe

Outside Europe, BBC World Service Television was the name of the 24-hour news, information and current affairs service, launched in Asia on 14 October 1991 as carried by Star TV, and also available from Turkey to South Korea on AsiaSat.[2] Competing against CNN International, it showed current affairs and documentary programming from BBC One and BBC Two in addition to BBC World Service News with entertainment programs aired on Star Plus. Explaining why the company choose to carry BBC WSTV instead of CNN, Richard Li, who was head of Star TV at the time, cited American bias projected in CNN's coverage of the Gulf War, in an interview with The New York Times.[5]

News Corporation, of Rupert Murdoch, began acquiring Star TV in 1993. In March 1994, the BBC and Star TV reached a deal after an out of court settlement, that would gradually drop BBC World Service Television from the satellite broadcaster's offerings. BBC WSTV would be dropped from the channel line-up for the Northeast Asia by mid-April that year, but would be available in the rest of Asia until 31 March 1996.[6][7][8]

BBC World Service Television programming was also carried in Africa on M-Net, launched on 15 April 1992, for 11 hours a day.[9] In Canada, its bulletins were carried on CBC Newsworld several times a day.[10]

BBC World Service Television news broadcasts were aired on Malaysia's TV1 until May 1994, with the BBC demanding that it would stop supply their content to Malaysia and should air their content without cuts, [11] which TV1's operator RTM think is unfair. [12] It also said that the BBC ignored priorities and cultural values of Asians. [12]


See also: Computer Originated World § BBC World Service Television

The channel from 1991 until c.1994 used the presentation device of a rotating world: the Computer Originated World, which had previously been used on BBC One between 1985 and 1991. The world symbol remained the same, but the legend at the bottom was altered to a BBC logo with an italic "World Service" beneath. Promotional style and static programme captions mirrored that of BBC1 and 2 at the time and featured the globe symbol above a small BBC logo in the top left corner of promotions and on captions. The sidebar of captions featured a vague wispy line style, similar to that used by WSTV bulletins.[13] The channel also used a break bumper featuring the globe, and a promo bumper featuring the COW globe split into lines to the side and bottom.[14]

Around the time of the relaunch, BBC WSTV adopted a variation of the flag look later to be used by BBC World, which only featured a BBC logo.[15][16]

The channel had a permanent DOG of the BBC logo in the top right corner of the screen.[15]

Rebranding and reorganisation

On Thursday, 26 January 1995 at 19:00 or 7pm GMT, BBC World Service Television was split into two new television services broadcast from BBC Television Centre in White City, London:

See also


  1. ^ a b Broadcasting in the United Kingdom: A Guide to Information Sources, Barrie I. MacDonald, Mansell, 1993, page 84
  2. ^ a b c Cain, John (1992). The BBC: 70 years of broadcasting. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. pp. 142, 143 and 151. ISBN 0563367504.
  3. ^ Territoriality in the Globalizing Society: one place or none? : with 5 figures and 8 tables, Stefan Immerfall, Springer Science & Business Media, 14 May 1998, page 112
  4. ^ Combroad, Issues 86-93, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, 1990, page 39
  5. ^ Richardson, Michael. "BBC and CNN Test Asia's News Tastes". The New York Times. No. 2 October 1991. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Murdoch's STAR TV to drop BBC" UPI March 22, 1994
  7. ^ Dawtrey, Adam "BBC, Star TV to split in parts of Asia" Variety March 21, 1994
  8. ^ Look what happened in Asia: The BBC's World Service Television is a sure winner, but it needs better backing if it is to keep its audiences, says Jonathan Eyal, The Independent, 27 March 1994
  9. ^ Africa Research Bulletin: Political, social, and cultural series, Volume 29, Blackwell, 1992, page 10559
  10. ^ BBC Worldwide The BBC World Service Magazine, Issues 9-14, November 1993
  11. ^ "RTM axes BBC news programmes". Business Times. 5 May 1994. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  12. ^ a b "RTM to use other news sources after BBC boycott". The Straits Times. 2 May 1994. Retrieved 15 December 2023.
  13. ^ "BBC World Service TV 1992". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 18 September 2011. YouTube video of BBC WSTV continuity including idents, captions and promotions.
  14. ^ "BBC World Service Television". Intertel. Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011. Contains images and video clips of News, Weather and break and promo bumpers.
  15. ^ a b Walker, Hayden. "BBC World 1991". TVARK. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011. Contains news clips from the channel, and an ident used on BBC WSTV.
  16. ^ "BBC World". TV World. Archived from the original on 6 March 2001. Retrieved 18 September 2011. Contains images and previously video of BBC WSTV continuity.
  17. ^ "BBC World 1995". TVARK. Archived from the original on 18 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2011. Contains video of pre-launch caption, and of the simultaneous launch of BBC World and BBC Prime.