The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011
, John Plunkett: "The BBC and the government traded blows today over who was responsible for the swingeing cuts to the World Service that will lead to the loss of 650 jobs, more than a quarter of its workforce. Peter Horrocks, the BBC's global news director, pointed the finger at foreign secretary William Hague, who he said supported the concept of a strong World Service but had failed to provide the funds to support it. Hague in return pointed out that BBC management had originally proposed to cut 13 of the global news broadcaster's foreign language services, only for this to be vetoed by the government and reduced to five."
The Telegraph, 27 Jan 2011, Neil Midgley: "Andrew Tyrie, the Tory chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said: 'There is very deep concern in the House about this decision, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will reconsider it with Cabinet colleagues. In particular, I hope that he will take a look at the overseas aid budget, which is increasing by 37 per cent in real terms at a time when he intends to implement 16 per cent cuts to the World Service.' ... Labour’s shadow culture secretary, Ivan Lewis, and the Liberal Democrats’ Don Foster also spoke out against the cuts."
Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The World Today, 27 Jan 2011: "SIMON LAUDER [reporter]: Speaking on the BBC a Conservative member of parliament's Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, Louise Bagshawe, says services which are being cut aren't as valuable as they once were. LOUISE BAGSHAWE: So we're not talking about a Doomsday scenario. What we are talking about is setting strategic priorities, reducing for example you put it that we're cutting radio services to Russia and we're cutting them to China. What we didn't explain there is that China very often blocks off those shortwave services so they're not actually reaching an audience and that in Russia shortwave use is declining massively and people are turning to the internet."
Daily Mail, 27 Jan 2011, Paul Revoir: "Former BBC World Service managing director Sir John Tusa claimed the cuts would be ‘awful’ for listeners around the world and damaging to British foreign policy, because the service is viewed as one of the UK’s most crucial tools of ‘cultural diplomacy’."
BBC News, 26 Jan 2011, Torin Douglas: "The BBC has revealed the full extent of the World Service cuts - and they are, if anything, worse than people had feared. Sir John Tusa, the former head of the World Service, said they were 'bad bad bad.' ... [He] says the Foreign Office should have reduced its International Development budget instead. He believes a £46m cut would have had less impact there than it will at the World Service."
The Guardian, 26 Jan 2011, John Domokos (video): "'This is the death knell' ... Journalists protest outside Bush House against the announcement that 650 jobs would be lost in cost savings at the BBC World Service." Listen also to journalism.co.uk podcast, 27 Jan 2011, Rachel McAthy.
The Scotsman, 27 Jan 2011, David Maddox: "Daya Thussu, professor of international communication and co-director of India Media Centre at the University of Westminster, said: 'The decision … is an unwise move at a time when Britain's influence in the wider world is waning as new actors - China, India, Brazil - emerge.'"
The Press and Journal (Aberdeen), 27 Jan 2011, editorial: "Of all the cuts that the BBC could have chosen to make, reducing the World Service will be one of the least popular. It is the corporation’s global service that has helped it become the most trusted and respected broadcaster in the world. In these days of post-cold-war global politics, it is a valuable tool for so-called 'soft' diplomatic intervention in disputes and for monitoring regimes around the world. Its strategic importance has been such that it has always been funded by a grant from the Foreign Office. That arrangement comes to an end in 2014, when it will have to be funded from the BBC’s own budget. Clearly, the BBC will have to make savings to continue to pay for any level of World Service under a restricted funding deal agreed with ministers. There will be little sympathy, however, with an organisation that chooses to continue to produce products in competition with established services provided by the private sector."
The Independent, 27 Jan 2011, leader: "The Government claims that no public service can be exempt from the impending spending cuts. And there are undoubtedly inefficiencies in Bush House, the World Service headquarters in London. But the proposed cuts are too severe. The World Service helps to nourish democracy and political accountability across the world. Moreover, it produces much high-quality, impartial, and authoritative journalism. It exports British 'soft power' and remains an island of resistance to the global proliferation of celebrity news. A relatively small nation such as Britain may struggle to be heard in the globalised age. Weakening one of its strongest international assets is a mistake."
The Independent, 27 Jan 2011, Daniel Howden: "It is Africa ... that retains possibly the strongest emotional link to the BBC. It is comfortably the most recognisable media brand – more so than CNN and incomparably better known that its equivalents Radio France International (RFI) and the Voice of America (VOA). While the recognition remains, there is an increasing feeling in Africa's larger economies that BBC radio's influence is fading. Although it now broadcasts in clear FM across most of the East African nation, the vast majority of Kenyans would rather listen to the more music- driven local stations that mash up English, Swahili and other languages in a more authentically modern mix. ... The BBC retains its strongest relevance in the places where life is hardest. Somalia illustrates this best. The airwaves have been another battleground between the country's warring groups and while private radio stations have proved to be soft targets for the Shabaab Islamic militants to close down or takeover the BBC Somali service remains a vital independent voice. Any threat to these services would have a real impact on listeners who don't have any other options and undermine what the World Service is known for even where it's not listened to: a rare reminder of British excellence."
Demotix, 26 Jan 2011, Peter Marshall: "In terms of trust, the BBC World Service must be the leading brand worldwide, and one that could be even more important and influential in the future. But the BBC has decided to cut it back hard, perhaps as a deliberate but short-sighted response to the government's stance over the licence fee. The nation deserves better treatment and a more responsible attitude. We could live with one less comedy series that could be done equally as well by commercial providers or sporting events that would be covered almost as well by them, but the BBC World Service is unique. It has a well-deserved reputation as the best in the world and should be the BBC's priority rather than being treated as a poor relation."
followthemedia.com, 27 Jan 2011, Philip M. Stone: "What do the numbers 6195, 7325, 9410,12095 and 15070 have in common? They were all shortwave transmission frequencies for the BBC World Service English language broadcasts in Europe. But no more, for those European shortwave transmissions ended long ago. Not that one can’t listen in Europe to the BBC World Service -- it’s on the Internet and on many local AM or FM transmitters throughout the continent delivered with satellite quality. ... Shortwave is passé today and in the Stone basement there are still three such radios that for many a year have gone unused. She who must be obeyed recently suggested they be tossed since they were just gathering dust but that is one argument she lost! Some things are still sacred."
MMEGI, 27 Jan 2011, Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News: "What won't change is the BBC's aim to continue to be the world's best known and most trusted provider of high quality, impartial and editorially independent international news. We will continue to bring the BBC's expertise, perspectives and content to the largest worldwide audience, which will reflect well on Britain and its people."
BBC Trust press release, 26 Jan 2011: "BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said: 'Today is a difficult day for the World Service, which we want to ensure continues to be the most authoritative, quality broadcaster of news and information around the world. But we have no choice other than to live within the reduced Government grant. Our aim is to help the World Service continue to support the BBC's international role by ensuring it adapts to the changing needs of its audience within a more constrained public spending environment. As part of that the Trust has approved the closure of five language services.'"
Twitter, 26 Jan 2011, Graham Holliday: "So, the BBC butcher the BBC World Service. I do hope they keep all the antique shows, house hunting, reality TV and other important stuff."
Twitter, 27 Jan 2011, "Elizabeth Windsor": "One understands that the BBC World Service is to be renamed 'BBC Almost the Entire World Service'."
See previous post about same subject.