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Last updated: 04 February, 2011 - Published 13:59 GMT
 
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BBC Caribbean final programmes in March
 
Bush House entrance

BBC Caribbean Service is to end its broadcasts on March 25.

This follows a decision by BBC World Service as part of cuts which will amount to over 600 jobs.

Other services being closed are the Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, and Portuguese for Africa broadcasts.

A BBC press release said the closures were part of its response to a cut to its Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

BBC World Service closures
Division and audience
Caribbean Service-850,000
Portuguese for Africa-1,500,000
Serbian-550,000
Albanian-510,000
Macedonian-160,000

The final week of broadcasting by the Caribbean Service will include a regional call-in and discussion programme looking at the future of pan-Caribbean news and current affairs.

The last editions of the morning and evening drivetime editions of BBC Caribbean Report and BBC Caribbean Magazine will be aired on March 25.

Rationale

Other cuts are being made in remaining World Service departments as part of the budget exercise.

The cuts are part of a BBC World Service restructure in order to meet a 16% savings target announced in the Government's Spending Review of 20 October last year.

BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks said: "These closures are not a reflection on the performance of individual services or programmes. They are all extremely important to their audiences and to the BBC.

"It is simply that there is a need to make savings due to the scale of the cuts to the World Service's Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office and we need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact."

Controller, Languages at BBC World Service, Liliane Landor described BBC Caribbean as: "The Caribbean Service, one of the oldest and most distinguished services that the BBC has provided in English."

Profile

Caribbean Service team (l-r) Debbie Ransome, Ken Richards, Bertram Niles, Mike Jarvis, Marie-Claire Williams

The Caribbean Service transmissions are used on 48 partner stations across the English, Spanish, and Dutch Caribbean and as part of the Caribbean stream on four FM relays in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and Antigua-Barbuda.

Its flagship programmes are BBC Caribbean Report - morning and evening drivetime editions.

The cultural programme BBC Caribbean Magazine has reflected the human side of the news as well as reporting on the region's music and literature.

And BBC Sports Caribbean is provided by World Service for the Caribbean programme stream.

The website www.bbccaribbean.com receives its biggest page impressions from the Caribbean diaspora in the US, Canada, and the UK.

History

The early roots of the Caribbean Service began in 1939. The programme Calling the West Indies featured West Indian troops on active service during World War Two to read letters on air to their families back home.

From 1943 to 1958, the programme became Caribbean Voices which highlighted West Indian writers.

During this period, new writers, including VS Naipaul, George Lamming, Andrew Salkey and Samuel Selvon worked and produced their first works.

In 1949, the segment We see Britain was introduced as part of the programming for the Caribbean under the management of cricketer-turned-producer Ken Ablack.

The Service went on for the next three decades nurturing the talents of producers and presenters such as Louise Bennett, Jones P Madeira, and Trevor MacDonald.

The Service was closed in the mid 1970s with Caribbean Magazine remaining on air, produced by a separate BBC department.

It was re-opened in 1988 as a news and current affairs department, later taking over Caribbean Magazine as part of the Caribbean stream of programming for the Caribbean.

Its opening presentation team were Hugh Crosskill, Jerry Timmins, and Pat Whitehorne.

Debbie Ransome, Head of BBC Caribbean Service said: "After one of our best years ever editorially, this has been a great blow for the team here."

"Given what we know BBC Caribbean means for providing pan-Caribbean coverage for a strong radio audience, plus the online links it provides between the Caribbean and its diaspora, and the amount of goodwill it brought for the BBC from a loyal audience, clearly a void will be left."

YOUR COMMENTS

The decision to discontinue the BBC Caribbean Service is incredibly sad, short-sighted, and misguided. The service was incredibly popular and filled a great need for the Caribbean audience to have a view of the world not provided by local radio stations. As David Rudder says just one more bit of evidence that the world doesn't seem to need islands any more!
Jacqueline Sharpe
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

I will miss our Caribbean BBC.
I have lived in Guyana and remember listening to the radio growing up this was our only news contacts for years and years. Now I have BBC Caribbean as my internet home page and enjoy reading and listening to news. I wish we could all tell you how important your news is to us. I wish you could stay with us. Especially important to us who travel around once we have Caribbean Report and BBC news we feel we are always "at home" where ever home may be. Thank You!
Margaret Mew
Georgetown, Guyana

Hearing your voice on the phone last year re the interview was like hearing from an old family friend - which you are, to the many people who listen to your programmes. To not hear it any more, well, I am truly sorry.
Without your one-stop cohesive and comprehensive Caribbean service, our islands will (once more) drift in the noise and confusion of a lack of proper enunciation and pronunciation.
Suelin,
Grenada

I will miss our Caribbean BBC.
I have lived in Guyana and remember listening to the radio growing up this was our only news contacts for years and years. Now I have BBC Caribbean as my internet home page and enjoy reading and listening to news. I wish we could all tell you how important your news is to us. I wish you could stay with us. Especially important to us who travel around once we have Caribbean Report and BBC news we feel we are always "at home" where ever home may be. Thank You!
Margaret Mew
Georgetown, Guyana

I'd like to add my name to those offering "sympathy and support" and wish you all the best for the future.
Some years ago you were kind enough to invite me to meet Sir Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Wes Hall at your offices. Coming face to face with some of my boyhood heroes was an experience I will never forget - it was a genuine privilege and for that, I thank you.
Paul, BBC

The BBC World Service is one of the most reputable radio services in the World and the Caribbean service in particular is incredibly popular in that region.
It is clear to see that this will be a big loss for the BBC and Britain as a whole. People will lose out culturally, the BBC’s reputation in the world will be sorely diminished, audiences will fall dramatically and most importantly people will be denied a service that is simply not available to them locally. BBC staff have been rocked by today’s news and rightly so, as despite the 42m saving to be made they realise that in the long run the cost of running the service is far outweighed by its benefits. The Government simply must change its mind on this issue.
Diane Abbott MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington

We're all very saddened to hear that BBC Caribbean has been cut. Here at ARCHIVE, we have time and again turned to BBC Caribbean for the latest news not least for our work in Haiti. The cuts in the Caribbean service will be strongly felt, and you will be sorely missed.
Archive - Architecture for Health in vulunerable environments

Some things have no monetary value but I am sure that I am not the only person the BBC’s service has impacted, so I implore those in charge to reconsider.
As a 240lbs Jamaican man, I feel quite silly typing with tears in my eyes over the possible closure of the service, but it symbolizes so much to so many and with all that the world has lost I feel we must fight to hold on to some things, let this be one of them.
The BVI has a population of 70% expatriates, and the BBC is the beacon we turn to keep us informed.
I, like so many I’m sure, am prepared and willing to pay a fee for the BBC to remain. I also implore regional governments to step up, if you want citizens to be educated and informed about what our Caribbean brothers and sisters are doing, please step forward.
I will not standby and watch this giant figure in my life pass away, how can we help?
Darvin Jackson
Road Town, Tortola BVI

Please allow your listeners to have at least one broadcast to thank you guys for the great work that has been done over the years. May God bless all of you.
Edward Browne,
US Virgin Islands

I am writing asking to please keep BBC Caribbean. We own a house in Grenada and must get current news, both while we are in the US and in the West Indies. This is our best source of news that covers the Carribean. I was shocked when I read about the proposed cut!
Robert and Sorrel Dod
Roseburg, USA

I know BBC Caribbean Report will be sorely missed here in the US Virgin Islands where, to this day, we still don't have a strong television network for general consumption. Either you get broadcast, if your signal will allow it where you live, or your get cable (if you're financially able), or you get the one public tv channel we have (which does not have a daily news report). And given the number of folks living here who hail from parts of the Eastern Caribbean, bbc is very well regarded.
Judith Schimel,
US Virgin Islands

I am profoundly saddened at the news that the BBC Caribbean Service
is another casualty of budget cuts.
I'm unable to find the words to express my disappointment and I'm sure it's not any easier for the men and women who have made the service the premier news provider throughout the Caribbean.
One of my goals have been to work side by side with the Caribbean team,
which comprises of some of the best minds in the media profession.
My heart goes out to all of us and I wish you all the very best in your
endeaveours, which I anticipate will be very productive given the experience gained through the BBC.
Bertille Maloney
St Vincent and the Grenadines

This is sad. BBC Caribbean is the biggest thing around. People make it a point of duty to listen to BBC Caribbean especially the evening edition. BBC should have done a survey or allow radio stations to raise the issues on their talk show to see if that would change the heart of those in charge. Right now we people have to return to VOA. I still do not quite understand this.
Imagine when the politicians know they say certain things at press conferences they themselves make an effort to listen to BBC Caribbean Report because they know some of what they said would make it on BBC Caribbean. I think too that some more time should be spent on one of the evening programmes explaining the whole thing to people so they can get a clear understanding of what is going on.
I also think that an opportunity should be given to the people of the region to say thanks or what they thought of the service over the past several years. That could be done on an interactive program or via telephone interviews and have it as part of the evening's edition for at the least a week.
You can't leave like that without allowing the region to say thanks. I hope not.
I'm really sad but if that's the way things have to be then we do not have a choice.
I must say that the service was very good. I always urged my staff to listen to the BBC Caribbean in order to sharpen their reading, writing and presentation skills. I have no doubt that the BBC has not only made my reporters more professional but others in the region. You have served as a broadcast school for us at Kairi and for this we are very grateful.
Thanks again BBC Caribbean, we will miss you
Steve Vidal
Kairi FM, Dominica

It came as a shock to me last evening when I heard on the Caribbean Report that the BBC Caribbean Service will be closing down.
I had to replay the recording to be sure what I had just heard. This equates to the loss of a very close and dear aunt or uncle. This is a massive loss and a huge void to fill.
Thanks so much for the wonderful work of informing, educating and entertaining us all in the Caribbean. You all are heroes and real role models. Thanks a million, my dear friends and colleagues.
Always remember God is in control and He will help you weather the storm. God bless.

Kind regards,
Paul Charles

As a Caribbean born person living in the UK I really depend on BBC Caribbean to stay in touch with what is going on in that part of the world. I hope the BBC reconsiders closing this very good service as it benefits both the Caribbean and latin America.
Jason Raymond
London

The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) is saddened by the announcement by the British Broadcasting Corporation that its popular Caribbean Service is to be closed.
The Caribbean Service's journalists and producers deserve the highest commendation. They also deserve the unequivocal assurance that their names - household names for thousands of Caribbean people - will not be lost to regional broadcasting.
While the ACM applauds the sterling work of its colleagues in London, it has long believed that only a truly Caribbean institution that is to the region what the BBC has been to the world can be a vital part of the communications mix in a Caribbean single economy and a Caribbean single marketplace of ideas.
The Caribbean needs a distinctive service of high quality news and information that is collected, distilled and explained by some of its veteran journalists, not a hodge-podge of duplicated copy from national media houses.
Let it not be said that in a moment of adversity, the Caribbean media failed to shed considerations of parochialism and profit to create a trustworthy source of Caribbean news and information.
Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers

I have just heard the news of the cuts to the BBC World Service and am terribly upset to hear that the BBC Caribbean Service is to be cut. Here in Barbados we have ONE television channel with an incredibly poor news service, and unless people can afford to pay for the American influenced cable tv they have NO access to international news or programmes.
We have only quite recently started to be able to pick up a dedicated World service radio channel on 92.1FM here in Barbados, and it has been a joy beyond all words to listen to.
Does this mean that this radio station will now end for Barbados and similarly Jamaica, Trinidad and Antigua or do these cuts only affect the short world news reports that we hear on a few of the other local radio stations such as BBS and VOB?
I am praying these services won't be cut. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. This new radio station has been an absolute God send for people in Barbados.
Thank you and kind regards,
Melanie Watson
St. Michael, Barbados

It's sad when the Caribbean is about to go through a rough period in its history
K Baksh

I value every aspect of the world service, and have done since moving to Singapore 13 years ago. Why doesn't the BBC ask overseas listeners to pay a fee for certain services to help support the services effected by these cuts. The news services should be continued to be enjoyed around the world. After all when I'm in the UK I would pay the license fee - I wouldn't hesitate in paying a fee to continue access. It seems illogical to cut before even asking the question - can you support?
John Bishop,
Nassau, Bahamas

 
 
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