Tag Archives: BBC News

Radio Waves: Digitizing Pakistan, BBC MW Closures, Lowe HF-250 Review, and BBC News suspends 450 job cuts

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’sRadio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Alan, Mike, and Dave Zantow for the following tips:

Government to fully digitize Radio Pakistan (Radio Pakistan)

The incumbent government, under its vision of introducing modern trends and technology in different sectors, has planned to fully digitize the state-owned Radio Pakistan.

This information has been revealed in official documents during the ongoing week-long national workshop on Digital Radio Migration policy of Radio Pakistan at Pakistan Broadcasting Academy, Islamabad.

The digitization will bring about a revolution in the field of broadcasting in the country, and will capture the audience at home and abroad including South Asia and Central Asia and the Middle East through quality news, current affairs and programs.

Under the plan, the biggest 1000-Kilowatt DRM Medium-wave transmitting station of Radio Pakistan will be set up at Fort Monroe hill station in Dera Ghazi Khan district in South Punjab at an estimated cost of three billion rupees.

It will be the first ever most powerful but digital transmitter of Radio Pakistan that is to be established in center of the country as part of Phase-II of Digital Radio Migration policy and it will help cover the entire population of Pakistan with crystal clear and noise-free waves.

The project has already been approved by the federal cabinet while the Punjab government has been asked to acquire land for the said purpose.

Under Phase-II of DRM plan, five DRM+FM transmitters of 10-kilowatt each will be installed in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Multan in the existing Radio Stations.

Besides, eight DRM+FM transmitters of five kilowatt each will be installed in Quetta, Peshawar, Gilgit, Skardu, Gwadar, Mirpur (Azad Kashmir), Khairpur and Narowal in the existing radio stations.

The phase-II of the plan would be accomplished in three years with an overall estimated cost of 3,153 million rupees.

And under Phase-III of the plan, four DRM medium wave transmitters of 100-kilowatt each will be installed in Lahore, Skardu, Quetta and Peshawar for strategic purposes.[]

BBC Radio to close more medium wave transmitters (Radio Today)

The BBC says it is closing a further 18 medium wave transmitters across England, Scotland and Wales in the next stage of its plan to cut costs.

Services being closed range from BBC Radio Solent’s two AM frequencies on the South Coast to BBC Radio Scotland’s service in Aberdeen.

Six more BBC Local Radio services will no longer be transmitted on AM – they are Three Counties Radio (630 and 1161 kHz), BBC Radio Merseyside (1485 KHz), BBC Radio Newcastle (1458 KHz), BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Solent (for Dorset) 999 and 1359 KHz, BBC Radio Cornwall (630 and 657 kHz) and BBC Radio York (666 and 1260 KHz).

Kieran Clifton, Director, BBC Distribution & Business Development explains: “The majority of radio listening in the UK – including to the BBC – is now digital, and digital listening is continuing to grow.

“This change was planned as long ago as 2011, but we have taken a measured approach to implement it to ensure that as many of you as possible have already moved on to other ways of receiving the services before we make this change. We know that the changes will impact some of you, and that’s why we’re speaking about the plans again now. We want to make sure that people listening to these transmissions will be able to use other methods to hear the same programmes.”[]

Dave’s review of the Lowe HF-250 (N9EWO)

[…]As far as audio quality goes, it’s extremely difficult to beat the Lowe HF-250. Mind you it has it’s share of “bug-a-boos” as well.

In our view it has held up much better in it’s old age vs. the AOR AR7030. Properly operating and in decent condition samples are fairly rare on the used market now (even more so in North America). Most owners know what the receiver is and hang on to them. But once a great while one does show up on the used market. Click here to read the full review.

BBC News suspends 450 job cuts to ensure Covid-19 coverage (BBC News)

BBC News has suspended plans to cut 450 jobs as it faces the demands of covering the coronavirus pandemic.

The job losses were announced in January and were part of a plan to complete a £80m savings target by 2022.

Outlets due to be hit include BBC Two’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live and the World Service’s World Update programme.

Director general Tony Hall gave staff the news on Wednesday, a week after the broadcaster delayed the end of the free TV licence scheme for all over-75s.

Lord Hall said “we’re suspending the consultation on those saving plans”.

He told staff: “We’ve got to get on with doing the job that you’re doing really brilliantly.

“It would be inappropriate. We haven’t got the resource to plough ahead with those plans at the moment, so we’ll come back to that at some point.

“But for the moment we just want to make sure you are supported and you’ve got the resources to do the job that you and your colleagues are doing amazingly.”[]

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BBC: “Finnish radio drops Latin news after 30 years”

(Source: BBC News via Kris Partridge)

The Yle public broadcaster has told its ‘carissimi auditores’ (dear listeners) that “everything passes, and even the best programmes reach the end of the road. This is now the case with our world-famous bulletin, which has broadcast the news in Latin on Friday for the past 30 years”.

The core members of the ‘Nuntii Latini’ (News in Latin) team – Professor Tuomo Pekkanen and lecturer Virpi Seppala-Pekkanen – have been with the five-minute bulletin since it was first broadcast on 1 September 1989, although other newsreaders and writers have joined since.

Professor Pekkanen took gracious leave of Yle, saying that, “judging by the feedback, Nuntii Latini will be missed around the world – and we send our warm thanks to you all for these past years!”

[…]Latin news addicts won’t have to suffer withdrawal symptoms for long, as the language’s greatest remaining bastion, the Catholic Church, launched its own weekly news bulletin in Latin the same week as Yle’s programme went off air. [read more here]

The key difference is that Yle offered a broad world news agenda, rather than Vatican Radio’s more focused ‘Hebdomada Papae’ (The Pope’s Week) – not to mention the fact that the Catholic Church uses its own, Italian-influenced pronunciation, rather than the Classical version preferred by scholars.[…]

Read this full news item at BBC News.

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Belgium to end telegram service

(Source: BBC News via Kris Partridge)

Belgium’s telegram service is about to stop. Stop.

One hundred and seventy-one years after the first electrical message was transmitted down a line running alongside the railway between Brussels and Antwerp the final dispatch will be sent and received on 29 December.

The fact that this 19th-Century technology is still up and running in the age of Instagram and Snapchat may seem rather odd – especially when you consider that the UK, which invented the telegram in the 1830s, abandoned it as long ago as 1982.

The United States followed suit in 2006 and even India, which had been by far the world’s biggest market for the telegram, finally closed its system down in 2013.

Just 10 businesses and a handful of individual customers have kept the Belgian system going until now. It has been chiefly used by bailiffs, who had need of a system which provided legal guarantees of dispatch and receipt.

The buyer can call up a telephone operator to spell out their message, which is then sent by post.

But with a “flash” telegram costing €23.75 (£21) for a basic 20 words, plus €0.90 for delivery in and around Brussels, it is not difficult to see why the system is struggling to survive in the age of unlimited texting on cheap mobile phone tariffs.

Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website. 

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BBC News and CBS News enter editorial and newsgathering relationship

(Image source: BBC)

(Source: BBC Media Center via Larry W)

BBC News and CBS News announced today a new editorial and newsgathering relationship that will significantly enhance the global reporting capabilities of both organisations. The announcement was made by BBC Director of News and Current Affairs James Harding and CBS News President David Rhodes.

This new deal allows both organisations to share video, editorial content, and additional newsgathering resources in New York, London, Washington and around the world. The relationship between BBC News and CBS News will also allow for efficient planning of newsgathering resources to increase the content of each broadcaster’s coverage of world events.

James Harding, BBC Director of News and Current Affairs, says: “There’s never been a more important time for smart, courageous coverage of what’s happening in the world.

“This new partnership between the BBC and CBS News is designed to bring our audiences – wherever you live, whatever your point of view – news that is reliable, original and illuminating. Our ambition is to deliver the best in international reporting on television. We’re really looking forward to working together.”

David Rhodes, CBS News President, says: “CBS News is completely committed to original reporting around the world – a commitment clearly shared by the BBC.

“There’s no better partner to strengthen and extend our global coverage than BBC News. I look forward to working with James Harding as we increase the capabilities of both organisations.”

Sharing of content between BBC News and CBS News will begin immediately. Additional newsgathering components will be rolled out in the coming months.

The partnership builds on a relationship that dates back to the early days of television and radio news. Legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow delivered many of his famed reports from Studio B4 at BBC’s London headquarters. Murrow discussed his fondness for his work at the BBC’s studio B4, including a microphone he kept in New York with the BBC logo he used covering World War II.

This new partnership replaces the BBC’s current arrangement with ABC News.

James Harding says: “Our relationship with ABC has been long and fruitful. We have worked side by side on some of the most significant stories of our time on both sides of the Atlantic, from the attack on the Twin Towers to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We wish ABC well and would like to thank them for many years of hard work and expertise.”

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BBC World Service to launch 11 new language services

(Image source: BBC)

(Source: BBC News)

The BBC World Service will launch 11 new language services as part of its biggest expansion “since the 1940s”, the corporation has announced.


The expansion is a result of the funding boost announced by the UK government last year.

The new languages will be Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Gujarati, Igbo, Korean, Marathi, Pidgin, Punjabi, Telugu, Tigrinya, and Yoruba.

The first new services are expected to launch in 2017.

[…]The plans include the expansion of digital services to offer more mobile and video content and a greater social media presence.

On Wednesday the BBC launches a full digital service in Thai, following the success of a Facebook-only “pop-up” service launched in 2014.

Other expansion plans include:

  • extended news bulletins in Russian, with regionalised versions for surrounding countries
  • enhanced television services across Africa, including more then 30 new TV programmes for partner broadcasters across sub-Saharan Africa
  • new regional programming from BBC Arabic
  • short-wave and medium-wave radio programmes aimed at audiences in the Korean peninsula, plus online and social media content
  • investment in World Service English, with new programmes, more original journalism, and a broader agenda

The new language services mean the BBC World Service will be available in 40 languages, including English.

Lord Hall has set a target for the BBC to reach 500 million people worldwide by its centenary in 2022.

Click here to read the full article…

In addition, Mike Terry, posted a link to this Leading Article  from The Times which focuses on the BBC expansion. This content is behind a paywall (though you can register to read two free items per week) but here is an excerpt from the conclusion that I found particularly interesting:

“The radio may seem an irrelevance in the age of the internet but it is the most intimate of the so-called mainstream media and as such poses a challenge to authoritarian rule. Radios are cheap, ubiquitous and can whisper truths under the bedcovers. There is nothing that dictators hate more than direct access to the ears of their subjects.”


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Speech by James Harding focuses on future of BBC News and Current Affairs

(Image source: BBC)Many thanks to Jonathan Marks who shares a link to this speech by James Harding, Director of BBC News and Current Affairs. This public event was hosted by City University London on 18 December 2014.

The full speech by James Harding can be read on the BBC Media Centre website–I have included some excerpts below:

“2014 has been a year of exceptionally diverse and demanding stories – the Scottish referendum; the floods; Rotherham; UKIP; the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup; Ebola; Ukraine; IS; Boko Haram; the Malaysian airliners; Hong Kong. And, at the same time, huge change within BBC News.

We are changing at a time when there’s a lot less money available. We had to make £50 million of savings this year, after four consecutive years of cuts. And many people in BBC News are, understandably, unhappy. Losing 415 jobs is incredibly painful for the individuals directly involved and the waves it creates are acutely felt by all of our teams of journalists and production staff.

We have had to make some hard choices. We have restructured – a restructuring focused on two things: enabling original journalism and the digital transformation of BBC News.

The digital transformation of BBC News, of course, did not start this year and it certainly will not finish to the strains of Auld Lang Syne. But we have been driving innovation and improvement. The mobile sites are now responsive in 30 languages; the Twitter breaking news feed topped 10m users; BBC News is the most retweeted news source worldwide; BBC Trending has gone from obscurity to the envy of newsrooms everywhere; the Weather app is the most popular we’ve ever done. And, most significantly, the new BBC News app went into BETA testing yesterday. We will roll it out in the New Year. It represents a huge step forward on two fronts that really matter in mobile: personalisation and video. What you need to know, wherever you are, whenever you want it.

We have renewed the case for the BBC’s contribution to the revival of local journalism. We have shown a willingness to take on the wrong-headed argument that the problems of the local newspaper industry are the BBC’s fault; and we have shown a willingness to work with the local newspapers in meaningful partnerships. Someone said to me this week that the definition of partnership is “the mutual suspension of loathing in the pursuit of resources”. Well, I hope it can be more than that, as there is a real issue of information inequality in this country. Rich, old, white people are getting a better diet of news than poorer, younger and non-white people. And that’s increasingly true in national vs local news. Redressing the balance is one of the reasons we’ve doubled the regional news coverage in England in the 10 O’Clock news hour in the months ahead of the election.

[…]At the same time, we are making the most of the fact that the BBC is the world’s most global news service. Not just because it serves a worldwide audience of more than 250 million people. But because it has the voices and views, experience and contacts of the World Service – the language services, Monitoring, Media Action, World News – at the heart of it. And since the journalists at Bush House moved into New Broadcasting House, the World Service teams on the 5th floor are driving our reporting and analysis like never before. This week, Shaimaa Khalil, a former World Service correspondent, has been reporting from Peshawar, backed in no small part by the Urdu Service, the service that edited and published Malala Yousufzai’s blog long before she was a Nobel prize winner. Hard to recall that back in 2008, when the Taliban imposed a ban on girls’ education in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, no-one had heard of the schoolgirl from Mingora before BBC Urdu reporters set out to capture the impact the conflict was having on the pupils involved.

[…]But the primary role of the World Service Group, of course, is to serve audiences outside of the UK. And I was struck by the remarks made by the chief executive of Guardian Media Group, Andrew Miller, in October. I’d better be careful – he’s speaking after me!

Andrew has criticised the BBC’s recent expansion in Australia. He said the BBC’s move into Australia, where the Guardian launched a local online edition last year, threatened to distort the market and had no benefit for UK licence fee payers.

Well. What has the BBC done? Actually, we decided to tailor the BBC.com homepage for the local audience. And to do so, we appointed two people – a local editor and a homepage editor. Hardly a distortion of one of the world’s most competitive news markets, nor, I think, a threat to the Guardian’s ambitions there.

And, more importantly, I don’t want to see the World Service, now that it is funded by the licence fee payer, losing its appetite to serve people around the world. There are plenty of global news providers – CCTV, Russia Today, Al Jazeera – who would love to see the BBC reined in globally. I make no apology for our ambitions for the World Service. When it started broadcasting in 1932, John Reith warned listeners to keep their expectations low. Instead, it far exceeded them. We want to go on doing that. It is, to my mind, Britain’s best loved and most respected export. We should build it up, not tear it down. It’s a global news service that is trusted, respected and relied upon by a quarter of a billion people around the world. Our ambition is to double our global audience by 2022 to half a billion.

And even in our connected world, reliable, independent information is more needed than ever. Throughout the long history of the Cold War, the BBC World Service was broadcasting behind the Iron Curtain to a people denied the basic right of freedom of speech. The world does not stand still, and the Berlin Wall has long been reduced to rubble. So while today we are driving digital growth through mobile and social products we are also looking at how we can develop a service that might work for North Korea. And, I must say, we find ourselves increasingly reflecting on the position of the media in Russia and Turkey.

[…]Nobody knows what the outcome of next year’s election will be. The job of all news organisations is to ensure that voters arrive at polling day armed with the information they need. And, while politicians may discuss the BBC, our job is to put the public first. We will not be deterred or distracted by criticism, nor allow the debates about BBC funding mechanisms get in the way of our journalism. It’s been fashionable in the last few years to disparage journalism or despair of its future. It’s plain looking at the world today that it’s never been more important or more needed. 2015 is certainly going to be interesting. And I expect I may be ducking out of the odd meeting, to take a call, roll my eyes and swear.”

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Confession time: I love the BBC countdown


Most shortwave radio listeners are familiar with interval signals–those ditties that precede a shortwave radio broadcast–indicating a specific broadcast frequency and that a broadcast is about to begin.

On television, there’s really no need for an interval signal: channel selection is accurate and schedules are ubiquitous. Indeed, there’s no guess work involved at all. Tune to channel 3 at 6:00, and you know the evening news awaits you.

Still, many television news services around the world provide a visual-plus-aural countdown for their viewers which, in essence, serves the same purposes as an interval signal. As on the radio, it’s a build up…a “get ready, here comes the news” statement that’s separate from the title sequence. The most notable example I know of is the BBC’s television countdown, which, depending on timing, might count down for one minute–or even for several minutes on satellite feeds.

Here is the BBC’s latest (2013) countdown:

News agencies in the US, alas, never bother with a one-minute countdown to the hour because this is profitable time that can be filled with a sponsors’ advertising.

Perhaps that why I’ve always been a fan of the BBC, and even proudly payed my TV tax when I lived in Britain. The BBC, in general, represented a refuge from other TV mass media and the accompanying news network over-stimulus. While I still have many criticisms of the BBC–indeed, they’re stumbling now–I nonetheless prefer this broadcaster to most TV news services stateside.  [Of course, what I find most objectionable are the changes which could affect the integrity of the BBC World Service, now directly funded by the UK’s TV licensing fees instead of the Foreign Office.]

But I do enjoy this countdown.

If you share my appreciation for this “TV interval signal,” here are a few other examples starting with a compilation of BBC countdowns from 1999-2007 produced by a fan:

ABC News 24:

NBC News Special Report Countdown:

Sky News:

And if you can’t get enough of the BBC’s countdown montage, here’s a 10 minute filler version:

Will anyone else confess their love for a broadcaster’s countdown? Please comment!

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