Tag Archives: BBC World Service Cuts

MP criticism over BBC World Service’s uncertain budget

BBC-WorldService(Source: BBC News)

Uncertainty about the BBC World Service budget as the corporation prepares to take on full funding of the service is “unacceptable”, MPs have warned.

Foreign Office funding for the service will stop in April 2014 when it will be paid for out of the licence fee.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said the World Service could not “plan properly” because the BBC had yet to issue an operating licence to define its budget.

[…]A World Service spokesman said the change in funding next April, when it will be integrated with the BBC’s domestic news services, “provides certainty and stability”.

But the committee of MPs said it did not see how the World Service could prepare when it would not know “either the priorities, targets or characteristics which have been set for it, or its budget” until a few months before the change came into force.

[…]The committee also warned that, while it was logical to withdraw shortwave radio in dwindling markets where audiences had access to the internet and TV, such services still had a place.

“The World Service must continue to take into account significant audiences in certain parts of the world, such as rural India and Africa, who currently rely on shortwave radio,” it added.

The committee’s report, which also covers the work of the Foreign Office and the British Council, also warns that the UK risks losing credibility if more senior diplomats are not fluent in a range of languages.

Read the full article at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-22208426

Thanks for the tip, Andy.

Allen’s thoughts as BBC Cyprus relay station closes today

bbc_arabicSWLing Post reader, Allen, writes:

BBC’s Cyprus relay station is being closed down today after more than 50 years of service. The BBC currently uses the station to broadcast its Arabic radio service to the Arab world on short wave. The BBC will still incur the cost of making its Arabic radio service in London, but it will only be available to listeners if Arab governments permit it, as the radio channel will only be available online or where governments have permitted the BBC to have an FM licence.

So – Saturday (today) is the last day that the ten million Arabic radio audience will be able to listen on short wave.

If all Arab regimes were really democratic enough to have a permanently free media and allow the BBC on, what is the point of the BBC Arabic anyway? But do we really believe that all the Arab world is free and democratic??

It is also another blow to the English World Service. World Service listeners lost their medium wave service to Europe on 648 two years ago. The closure of Cyprus means that the continuous World Service English medium wave service to Israel and surrounding countries on 1323 kHz also ends today.

For the time being, the Arabic medium wave to small parts of the East mediterranean will continue from another part of Cyprus. This will carry English for just two hours of daytime and two hours in the middle of the night on 720kHz.

The Cyprus relay station was taken over by the BBC as a result of the Suez Crisis.

It is part of the WS strategy to move from short wave and radio into television forced through against the views of World Service traditionalists by Peter Horrocks (head of Global news) and a contender to replace Helen Boaden as head of BBC news.

Peter Horrocks has no radio background, as former editor of Newsnight.

Peter Horrocks has diverted much of the 200 million pound annual World Service budget into making television programmes given free to local stations in Africa, and India. The flaw in that is that the BBC has no guarantee that the programmes will get through local consorship.

This is also the last Saturday that rural areas in Africa will get the Saturday afternoon Premier league live soccer commentary and other sports coverage from World Service. English short wave is being cut by 60 per cent from this weekend, with only 6 hours a day left – and no live sport on Saturday. It will be available if you are in a big city with an FM BBC relay, but most listeners still rely on short wave in Africa.

The only upside is that – at least this six hours a day in English seems to be guaranteed for another 10 years, as that’s the length of the BBC contract with the transmitting firm, Babcock.

BBC World Service to “simplify” English and cut Arabic on shortwave

BBC-WorldServiceSadly, the BBC World Service is going forward with cuts that had been announced in 2012.

Global English service is being reduced, but Arabic services are being cut altogether. The BBC expect to lose 1.5 million listeners to Global English cuts, 800,000 listeners to Arabic cuts.

Fortunately, they will maintain all shortwave service into Sudan.

Here is the full press release:

(Source: BBC Media Centre)

25 March 2013

The World Service English global schedule will be simplified with fewer regional variations from Sunday 31 March 2013 and shortwave Arabic broadcasts will cease.

The reductions to shortwave services were announced in October 2012 as part of the UK government’s 2010 spending review. BBC World Service on FM and online and on television will not be affected and no language services are closing.

Shortwave and medium wave transmissions in English will be reduced to a minimum of 6 hours in total each day. This will generally be two periods of between 2 and 4 hours each, usually at peak listening times in the morning and evening to help minimise disruption. The changes will have less impact in regions where World Service is increasingly accessed via partner stations or online and in countries where FM is widely available.

Steve Titherington, Senior Commissioning Editor for BBC World Service, said: “We know that increasing numbers of people are accessing World Service on FM, online, and television. For those who can’t access these platforms, we’ve tried to ensure that they will continue to hear to the best the World Service has to offer at times of the day when they are most likely to tune in.”

“As part of the new schedule we will endeavour to have a mixture of news, current affairs and a mix of programmes covering the arts, science and human interest stories.” says Titherington.

A new programme, The Newsroom, will replace World Briefing. Outlook will be extended to an hour-long format and offer a new approach to covering arts, music and humanities following the closure of The Strand. Every Friday, The 5th Floor will run in the prominent Outlook time slot offering a review of the pick of the BBC’s 27 language services programing – in English.

The estimated loss of listeners to Global English on shortwave will be around 1.5m listeners, equivalent to 1.3% of the total Global News English audience on any platform.

BBC Arabic audiences are estimated to reduce by 800,000 as a result of the closure of shortwave broadcasts.

In the Arabic speaking world, the World Service broadcasts on a network of FM relays, a 24-hour television channel and thebbcarabic.com website.

Shortwave services to Sudan are not affected as the shortwave service is currently the most viable method of broadcasting to this large region.

Guardian: BBC World Service asking for voluntary redundancies

(Photo source: NY Times)

(Source: The Guardian)

Corporation’s global arm to close 73 editorial posts, but hopes to avoid compulsory layoffs as part of £42m budget cuts

The BBC World Service has urged all its network news journalists to consider voluntary redundancy as it aims to avoid compulsory layoffs as part of £42m budget cuts.

The BBC’s global arm is closing 73 editorial posts following its cut in funding by the government in 2010.

Post closures include 16 in network news, which includes domestic journalists based around the UK, 14 in World Service news, and two in newsgathering for world and business.

Stephen Mitchell, the BBC’s deputy director of news, urged staff to consider voluntary redundancy in an email on Thursday morning.

He said: “We are committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies where possible, and have previously been very successful in achieving this. We hope to continue our good record, and therefore are asking all network news staff once again whether they wish to be considered for voluntary redundancy.”

[…]Compulsory redundancies at the World Service led to two walkouts by staff last year.

[…]The National Union of Journalists has criticised the World Service cuts. General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the job losses “fly in the face” of the corporation’s commitment to quality programming, and urged director general George Entwistle to push for a renegotiation of the licence fee settlement.

“The World Service is a source of information for people across the world, described by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan as ‘perhaps Britain’s greatest gift to the world’,” Stanistreet added.

[…]”These cuts will severely impair the BBC’s scope and services at a time when they are needed more than ever. The BBC needs to stop and rethink its approach to the World Service before it does irreparable damage.”

Read the full article at The Guardian website.

BBC: Shortwave hit by World Service cuts

As we mentioned last week in our post with the internal memo from the BBC World Service, the BBC has now formally announced that World Service shortwave broadcasts in Arabic are to close by next April and the Cyprus shortwave relay station will close as well.

(Source: BBC)

Short wave broadcasts of World Service Arabic will end by next April, while the Cyprus short wave relay station will close.

World Service English short wave transmissions will be reduced to six hours a day, with 1.5m listeners likely to be lost as a result. Currently, there are between seven and 19 hours of short wave depending on region.

The distribution changes – which include cuts to medium wave transmissions – are designed to save £4.8m in 2013/14. It’s a large chunk of the £12m savings the World Service is targetting in its third phase of cuts as a result of a 16% reduction to its grant-in-aid.

An estimated 3% of the Arabic audience is likely to be lost when the eight hours a day of Arabic short wave in the Middle East is halted. A short wave service will continue in troubled Sudan where there’s a ‘strong need’ for humanitarian information and access to other platforms is limited…

Read the full article on the BBC website