Monday, February 14, 2011

One simple action for reducing corruption, exposing human rights abuses and promoting democratic values

There are not many broadcasting organisations left that are dedicated to such widely accepted human values.

One of the most important of such organisations, the BBC World Service, is now threatened with deep cuts being imposed by the UK government, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

If you would like to help protect the BBC World Service, please write, email or fax the British Embassy in your country and/or the office of the BBC. If you are a British citizen, please write to your MP, or directly to the Prime Minister.

In the material below, please note that the word "chapel" refers to a branch of a trade union, and the term goes back to the time when the only form of organisation for mutual help among workers were groups of follwers of Jesus the Lord who dissented from the political, economic and religious establishment. They were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and other groups from what is called the Radical Reformation, as against the Magisterial Reformation which allied itself with State power (e.g. Lutherans and Calvinists) and usually opposed these "chapels".

The cuts include a quarter of all staff and five foreign language service closures. The consequence will be a 30 million drop in weekly global audience from 180 million to 150 million.

David Campanale is the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Father of Chapel in the international television service BBC World News and a director of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund. He comments:

"At its best the World Service can challenge corruption, expose human rights abuses and promote democratic values. By cutting the service the government will cut British influence in the rest of the world and also damage objective quality international news. Some of these services are in regions of great vulnerability because of suppression of religious liberty and the abuse of human rights. The closure of language services in Azeri, Mandarin for China, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian are all causes of concern."

The BBC's trade unions believe that impartial observers across the globe will be mystified by the government’s strategy of talking about promoting democratic values and international human rights while inflicting cuts on the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring (Foreign Secretary William Hague announced he is allocating £58.5 million of Foreign Office spending in the coming year ‘for the support of democratic values, human rights and British diplomatic influence overseas’).

Brian Dale is a rep in one of the BBC's trade union branches covering technical staff at Television Centre and is part of the Community Church, Surbiton. He said that the ability of the Mubarak regime to close internet and mobile phone services during the Egyptian uprising made ridiculous the BBC's justification that short and medium wave broadcasts were no longer needed as audiences were "migrating to other platforms". He said:

"By cutting services, the BBC will lose the ability to control broadcasting in times of emergencies. The host government will have the ability to shut down the World Service at times when it is most needed - whether by switching off the power, shutting down the internet, putting journalists in jail or just locking the doors. Egypt is the latest example where events show the need for a continued shortwave presence."

The cuts proposed include 16 per cent of £267m government grant over the next five years, during which time the international aid budget will increase by 37 per cent to over £11bn. Mike Workman is Father of Chapel of the BBC World Service who set up Facebook’s SOS BBC World Service page. The site has been inundated with baffled listeners from all over the world who can’t understand why Britain doesn’t value the BBC World Service as one of its most important exports. An Anglican who has organised staff protests at Bush House in the Strand, Mike commented:

"The BBC World Service has a unique role in international relations and could be saved by providing a fraction of the aid budget. Nothing distributed abroad by Britain can compare with the effect of the World Service in supporting democratic values and human rights. That pride in such an excellent service deserves the support of Foreign Secretary William Hague and his government. The Foreign Office should allocate support for democracy overseas by finding the £19 million needed this year to protect the BBC World Service output.”


For more information: David Campanale 07873 625396


The BBC World Service cuts proposed include:
• Five language services totally closed (Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, English for Caribbean, Portuguese for Africa)
• Radio programming ending in seven languages: (Azeri, Mandarin for China, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian)
• Immediate end of short wave radio (March 2011) in Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili and the Great Lakes Service for Rwanda and Burundi.
• Immediate end to short and medium wave in English (March 2011) to Russia and former FSU
•The average age of a World Service audience member is 29 years old.

- The weekly reach of the World Service broken down into the five language services
that are proposed for closure:
o Albanian 510,000
o Macedonian 160,000
o Caribbean 660,000
o Portuguese 1,498,000

- The audience figures for the seven languages radio programme which are scheduled to end:
o Russian radio 1,241,000
o Chinese radio 595,000
o Turkish radio 450,000
o Azeri 150,000
o Vietnamese 100,000
o Ukrainian 910,000
o Spanish 9,000

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

No comments: