BBC World Service TV

BBC World Service Television, often abbreviated to WSTV (World Service Television), was the name given to two of the BBC’s 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, replacing it on 11 March 1991.
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.

Unlike BBC World Service Radio, it was not funded by the British government with a grant-in-aid; instead, it was funded by commercial advertising.
Commercials were inserted locally by the cable or satellite providers. In the years that followed, the BBC would insert news headlines and other updates to fill the gaps, known as the break fillers.

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, though 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.

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.
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.

The channel had a permanent DOG (Digital Onscreen Graphics) of the BBC logo in the top right corner of the screen.



In Europe, BBC WSTV replaced BBC TV Europe on 11 March 1991 as the BBC’s subscription-funded entertainment service. Like BBC TV Europe, it was a mix of BBC1 and BBC2 but showed specially commissioned World Service News bulletins in place of the BBC’s domestic ones (with the exception of the BBC Six O’Clock News, which was referred to in presentation as News from London). The BBC World Service News studio looked like the BBC’s domestic news, though with different graphics and on-screen logo.
The station also broadcast its own Children’s BBC junctions from Presentation Studio A.

Outside Europe, BBC WSTV was the name of the 24-hour news, information and current affairs service, launched in Asia on 14 October 1991, on STAR TV, available from Turkey to South Korea on AsiaSat.
Competing against CNN International, it showed current affairs and documentary programming from BBC One and BBC Two, in addition to BBC World Service News; the BBC’s entertainment programming was aired on the STAR TV’s flagship channel STAR Plus.

Following the acquisition of STAR TV by Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corporation, BBC World Service Television was removed from the satellite beam that broadcast into Hong Kong in July 1993, although it could still be received in the rest of Asia, particularly India.

Some WSTV programming was also carried in Africa on M-Net (launched in April 1992), and in Canada on CBC Newsworld. The channel also began to experiment with programming as on 4 May 1992, the BBC began to broadcast programmes in other languages on the network.


Rebranding & Reorganisation

On Thursday, 26 January 1995 at 19:00 GMT, BBC World Service Television was split into two new channels:

  • BBC World (since renamed “BBC World News”): 24-hour English free-to-air terrestrial international news channel: news bulletins, information, business and financial news magazines and current affairs programmes, officially launched on Monday 16 January 1995 at 19:00 GMT.
  • BBC Prime (since renamed “BBC Entertainment”): 24-hour English cable lifestyle, variety and entertainment channel: variety, culture, leisure, lifestyle, art and light entertainment programmes, officially launched on Monday 30 January 1995 at 19:00 GMT at BBC Television Centre in White City.


BBC World Service TV Gallery

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