From the TUC

BBC: Mayhem being done to the World Service

28 Feb 2011, by in International, Politics

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been helping the National Union of Journalists to campaign against the cuts being made to the BBC World Service – especially the foreign language services. And they are indeed gutting. Although no one has so far been so inept as to announce any cuts to the BBC Arabic Service in the middle of the biggest upheaval in a generation in the Middle East/North Africa region, the cuts that are being made are just as outrageous and short-sighted.

Trade unionists around the world are as shocked – if not more so – as I am about these cuts, and have recalled on camera and in text the part that BBC World Service language broadcasts have played in defending their human rights and providing them with that most precious of commodities for anyone living under a dictatorship: information.

International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary, Sharan Burrow said:

“Trade unionists and other supporters of freedom of expression around the world rely on the BBC World Service for facts instead of propaganda, news instead of ignorance, a voice for the unwillingly silent. Shutting down that voice is an act of sheer vandalism. It leaves the BBC – and the cause of freedom – diminished and bereft.”

TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber said:

“When I tell my fellow trade union leaders from around the world that the BBC is closing down some of its foreign language services, they are appalled, and rightly so. The BBC World Service’s foreign language broadcasting is a crucial contribution to excellence in broadcasting, it improves people’s lives and at the same time acts as an ambassador for the UK. Most importantly, trade unionists from countries with recent experience of dictatorships recall how, when their own government denied them the freedom to speak out, the BBC spoke for them. The BBC World Service speaks truth not just to power, but to the people, and when it does so in their own language, it does them and the UK an immeasurable service.”

Here is the list of closures announced so far:

  • 25 Feb: Portuguese for Africa; Serbian; Albanian; Mundo (Spanish Latin American)
  • 4 March: Macedonian
  • 25 March: Caribbean
  • 26/27 March: Russian; Chinese; Azeri; Vietnamese
  • Short wave: Hindi; Indonesian; Kyrgyz; Nepali; Swahili; Great Lakes
  • Mid Wave: English/European
  • TBC: Turkish; Ukrainian