Archives for June 2011

Freedom

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Rajan Datar | 11:38 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

This week's Over to You brings together two stories about freedom.

First, I speak to DiloramIbrahimova of the BBC's Central Asian Service about the detention of her colleague, Urunboy Usmanov in Tajikistan.

On 14 June Urunboy was detained by security services and accused of being a member of an extremist Islamic group - Hizbut-Tahrir - an accusation his colleagues and friends regard as absurd - indeed, Diloram talks in the programme about Urunboy's unfailing fairness in his reporting.

Despite appeals for his release from the BBC and the British and American embassies in Tajikistan at the time we recorded the programme Urunboy remained in detention, and a vigil to raise awareness of his situation had been held outside BBC Bush House.

Unlike some other Central Asian states, Tajikistan does have independent media, and Urunboy himself is also the editor of a newspaper.

But, as Diloram told me, his capture comes at a time when the Tajik government is clamping down heavily on press freedom. The country is ranked 115th out of 178 countries in the global press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders). Other central Asian countries rate far worse - Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan all fall within the bottom 20, and Diloram also told me of the fate of other journalists in the region accused of bias and bringing their countries into disrepute.

Our thoughts are with Urunboy and his family.

Freedom is also the theme in this week's second item.

With the BBC's annual Reith lectures approaching, I spoke to Sue Ellis, editor of the series about this year's theme - Securing Freedom - and just how they approached Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi to deliver the first two lectures.

Sue tells me about the trials of fixing up the lectures and how to record them in a state where foreign journalists are banned.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi has also spoken this week on how important the World Service has been to her whilst she was under house arrest, saying it was her friend and her contact with the outside world - though she does wish there was more music on the network now.

So as a regular listener she was aware of the weight attached to the Reith lectures, and was very flattered to be asked to deliver two - but does say how she wishes she had more time to prepare.

Also this week - but not on the theme of freedom - a number of your comments on problems listening to the World Service online in Europe (specifically in some areas of France and Italy).

The BBC team responsible identified the source of this problem and it has been resolved. They are working hard to ensure that listeners don't experience disruption again - but should that change, please do let us know.

As always keep your comments coming.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

Listen to previous episodes of Over To You

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Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog


California's Porn Industry on Assignment

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Rajan Datar | 07:56 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

Was pornography, even in the context of a programme about the porn industry, an appropriate subject for the Assignment slot on BBC World Service?

The programme makers argue that many of the issues in the programme are pertinent to people working in the porn industry around the world, but Rob Howe from California emailed us to express his dislike of this edition of Assignment.

Rob said that he is not a prude, but the Assignment on the porn industry was "classless and gratuitous" and well below the Service's usual standards.

He felt it was unnecessary to include some of the elements featured in the programme.

We asked the editor of Assignment, Bridget Harney, why the programme was made in the first place and she told me that because the California porn movie industry is huge, with hundreds of production companies, thousands of employees, and is also present globally, it was an appropriate subject for the programme to cover.

So with such a big industry, why wouldn't Assignment want to look at some of the issues - particularly health and workers' rights - that have taken place?

However Bridget did point out that a warning was broadcast before the programme aired which stated that the documentary began from the set of a porn movie, so if anyone wanted to switch off they could have done so.

Bridget also explained that the programme had unique access to the set of the movie. It was difficult to gain the confidence of the actors and crew, and the material was handled very sensitively, but as they were on a film set it would have been odd not to have had sound for a radio programme.

Also in this week's programme, six months after the start of the Arab Spring a new report by BBC Monitoring has raised some interesting findings about the Egyptian media's coverage of the protests.

The report also compared the way that private TV stations and international news channels covered the protests.

You can find out whether the lessons from Egypt also apply to what is now happening in Syria by listening to the podcast.

Keep your emails, calls and letters coming.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

Listen to previous episodes of Over To You

Subscribe to the podcast
Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog

A vision of the future

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Rajan Datar | 14:18 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

This week I spoke to the director of BBC World Service Peter Horrocks about the integration of correspondents into the English-speaking network, and his vision for the future in the light of ongoing financial cuts.

Jan Dryburgh from Norfolk, UK emailed in to stress her concerns about the cuts:

"I was upset to hear that the BBC, is considering the end of World Radio. Surely, as everything is in place for transmission, it can't be a great saving? Even an English listener like myself, finds a great deal of interesting foreign information.. which may not reach our own media at all. The world is getting smaller all the time, and it is much easier to listen to the news, than it is to read about it. Must also be cheaper than television.

"Those are just the views of a UK listener... but with the growing number of English speakers around the world, and the BBC's great reputation, there can be no good reason for stopping now. This must be a great unifying influence on listeners everywhere. "

Peter Horrocks put the record straight by telling me: "The network is alive and kicking. We've made adjustments in the schedule and I hope listeners haven't thought there is deterioration in quality, or the range or vibrancy of content. We have lost some language stations, and are still in the midst of some very painful changes. But we are confident for the future."

Steve Muturi from Nairobi in Kenya emailed the programme about the use of correspondents on the network:

"While I understand that the World Service has to retain reporters and correspondents all over the world from their home regions. But sometimes I do wonder because some of them can hardly express themselves in English! How are they vetted, and are they given any English coaching? On the other hand, a few seem to think that putting on what they think is an English accent gives them an edge, such as one gentlemen in Kampala and one in Bujumbura. Unfortunately they sound very sad, as their accents keep popping up inconveniently. Surely, there must be some basic standard that can apply universally, without affecting the international sound and feel of the Service?"

Peter thinks there are "huge advantages for having people from a variety of backgrounds, including people who don't have English as their first language, because its output for the world from the world. But their English needs to be comprehensible. So for me it's not a question of accent but that reporters can be properly understood.
We want to employ a range of voices from a range of perspectives, which is one of the joys of the World Service."

Thanks for all your comments this week. As ever we'd like to hear your views regarding anything you hear on the World Service.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

Listen to previous episodes of Over To You

Subscribe to the podcast
Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog


Superinjunctions and the media

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Rajan Datar | 14:21 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

We've received more comments from you regarding promotional trails on the World Service this week.

One listener emailed us to say, "Personally I find the music in the trailer (with the odd exception) to be very fitting to the subject being advertised.... as far as I'm concerned you can keep the music! Thank you for a great radio station!"

Positive feedback is always very welcome here at Over To You!

Another listener welcomed the trails debate, "When I caught the end of a telephone conversation 
regarding a complaint about music jingles accompanying future programmes, I
 found my self so whole heartedly in agreement that I almost cheered!"

This week we address the current issue of Twitter/super-injunctions, and gagging orders on traditional media, when news and other information has already disseminated online.

Does this mean the end of traditional broadcasting for networks such as the World Service?

I interviewed Mark Stephens, media lawyer and broadcaster who's undertaken some of the highest profile cases.

Mark told me, "News, information and social media are now globally based.

"No longer do we have national laws applying only in certain countries, because information flows see no borders. International law requires a more sophisticated approach."

Mark went on to say, "We don't have the same privacy laws in the UK as in North Western Europe.

"If a secrecy injunction/gagging order was granted in France and reported on here in the UK, contempt of court would not be a valid charge as the order was based and originated in France."

Torin Douglas, media correspondent for the BBC talked to me about the problems facing journalists when reporting on super-injunctions and gagging orders.

"The law in the UK is now very unclear and very uncertain.

"The government is currently in the process of setting up a committee to see where the law now stands."

But how does this affect the global picture? Torin explained, "Reporting on global injunctions prove different problems because the World Service does not know the details of every particular court case in every particular country, and therefore has to act reasonably.

"The problem is there are so many different laws in so many different parts of the world it's very difficult to police."

So is social media a real threat to traditional media?

Torin disagrees, "As long as they comply to traditional standards, newspapers and broadcast journalism still has a very important part to play."

Thanks for all your comments this week. As ever we'd like to hear your views regarding anything you hear on the World Service.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

Listen to previous episodes of Over To You

Subscribe to the podcast
Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog

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