The BBC is to launch a pan-Africa unit for business news, which will contribute news from Africa to BBC outlets including World Service radio, BBC online and domestic services in the UK. Meanwhile BBC Worldwide has announced a programming deal with China’s CCTV for a package of factual content, dominated by natural history programmes.

BBC’s Director of Global News, Peter Horrocks said of the move in Africa: “With a weekly audience of 96 million people around the continent and a network of 150 reporters and producers in 46 countries, the BBC is uniquely positioned to tell the African story.”

The Chinese programming deal is CCTV’s largest acquisition of natural history programming this year and includes titles such as Jaguars – Born Free, Attenborough’s Ark, Penguins – Spy in the Huddle and Giant Otters of the Amazon.

“We have a long history with the BBC, and have collaborated with them for many years now,” said Mr Liu Wen, Managing Director of CCTV Documentary Channel.  “In the years that we’ve worked together, we’ve seen an interest of documentary increase among our Chinese viewers.  BBC’s factual programmes are especially popular among the Chinese audience.”

The news follows the April announcement of a third co-production deal with CCTV9, for Hidden Kingdoms, BBC’s third a series featuring nature’s most fascinating tiny characters – such as chipmunks and giant rhinoceros beetles.