The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has launched a new digital service platform today, Monday, August 21, 2017, called BBC Pidgin.
As the name suggests, the new platform will broadcast fully in Pidgin English. It is believed that Pidgin is spoken and understood by up to 75 million people. This figure increases when you add numbers from other West African countries.
Pidgin is massively popular but it is not regarded as an official language in the country. In a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria however, Pidgin has come to become sort of an unofficial lingua franca among Nigerians.
BBC Pidgin's variety of programmes will include text news, podcasts and features.
Bilkisu Labaran is the Editorial Lead of BBC Pidgin. "We are really excited that this is the first fully digital service that the BBC is offering in Africa and it is a really exciting opportunity for us," she told Premium Times.
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"This is an opportunity, Pidgin is an informal language; it’s not a written language so the BBC sees a role here in encouraging a discourse to reach that consensus so that we will take that opportunity of Pidgin being a lingua franca across the region to communicate" she further said.
A pidgin based radio station is not new in Nigeria. In 2007, Wazobia FM was the first fully pidgin radio station in the country. Its success spurred the likes of Naija FM to open up shop.
The creation of BBC Pidgin is the broadcaster's biggest expansion since the 1940s thanks to a government funding boost that was announced in 2016.