Sunday, March 13, 2005

What in the world is the BBC saying?

Still a World Service?

Can you imagine an announcement printed in the Times of London warning readers that the number of pages in the newspaper were to be reduced because there are fewer readers of the printed page?

Of course not. But BBC World Service seems to have a strange policy of announcing its gradual wind-down of analogue shortwave broadcasts. In 2001, former Director of the BBC World Service, Mark Byford, got into a needless discussion/scrap with shortwave listeners because BBCWS announced the closedown of their English broadcasts on shortwave to North America. When the time came, they just pulled the about a build up to nothing. Had they simply reduced the number of frequencies beamed in that direction, few people (in theory) would have noticed. But to publicize it in such a way was simply a PR disaster. Now they are at it again....

If you check the BBC World Service schedules website it says

From March 27 2005 there will be adjustments to the BBC World Service shortwave provisions to reflect global changes in audiences' use of short wave. The number of hours broadcast on short wave in English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese for South America will be reduced.

What on earth does that garbled syntax mean? Is Arabic really going to South America? Doesn't it totally contradict other recent statements by BBC Managers that they have a strong committment to shortwave, albeit a digital shortwave future - DRM? So it is a logical shift to digital - not a closedown - they should be talking about. Or come clean and say that their policy is a network of FM stations in capital cities, with Internet as a fill-in and shortwave as a last resort.

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