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BBC World Service Cuts: Four Months On

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Rajan Datar | 13:01 UK time, Friday, 22 July 2011

This week on a special edition of Over To You we discuss programmes on BBC World Service with two of its commissioning executives. I am joined in studio by Jeremy Skeet, Commissioning Editor, and Steve Titherington, Senior Comissioning Editor for the World Service - the two men in charge of factual programming on the World Service.

We've been sifting through our mail bag to find the burning issues to put directly to them. On the agenda; how have the cuts to the World Service settled in, how has the content changed and what have the editors re-energised.

Listener Tim Foulkes had concerns about whether the World Service has become to news oriented. He also has questions, ones that many other listeners seem to share, about the current state of The Strand.

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

Chris Green from Jakarta has sent us an email expressing his displeasure at the dropping of World of Music. Jeremy and Steve gave us their reactions to these and other comments, and talked me through their plans for innovative use of music documentaries and podcasts.


  • Comment number 1.

    Dear Jeremy and Steve,

    I would like to thank you that you took time to answer questions on the Over To You program. Regarding that program, I would like to comment and ask you some questions.

    On the start of the program you agreed that the changes were driven by the budget changes. But the following 6 minutes, instead of listening to and reacting on the critique your channel received, you were just using the time Rajan gave you to tell the listeners we were wrong and you were right. There was absolutely no rapport between you and the listeners who complaint.

    Let me remind you of some examples:
    For you it was good that there was a range of programs in the 30 minute slot, by which you mean one 17 minute program (e.g a science program) and one 8 minute program (like FOOC or Over to You). What we as listeners realise, is that the new 17 minute and 8 minute programs makes it easier for you to pick and mix repeats al over the schedule.

    You mentioned in the program that the resources per documentary is the same, however the number is reduced from 5 to 4. That means that the content per program is the same. I applaud that, and ask you to do the same for the science and other factual programs. I prefer to have three 28 minute science programs a week (the old length), instead of the new five 17 minute programs. I stopped listening to these brief overviews.

    If audiences “primarily want news”, as you mentioned in the program, please make the 24 hours news stream easier accessible to the listener and advertise that stream online. In that way, space is being made available on the World Service for the factual and topical programs.

    The key issue with the “Top Of The Pop” remark was (in my opinion) not the choice of music, but the choice for cheaper programs, as they are copied from other BBC outlets. Please acknowledge that. Also, by focusing on the Click program, you did not go into the critique on putting TV content on the radio, for which Hardtalk is the best example.

    Therefore, let us have a fair discussion on the World Service. A discussion that cannot be done in the 8 minutes Rajan Datar gets each week. So lets plan for a special 28 minutes “Over to You” extended program. And start building rapport with your listeners.

    Kind regards
    Piet (Pete)

  • Comment number 2.

    I notice over the last few days, starting with Gavin Hewitt, there have been fewer and fewer places to input comments. Is this because most editors are just too busy with important investigative journalism, or some other reason?
    Can you please explain what is happening?

  • Comment number 3.

    I tried to send this to Worldhave your say but it bounced. Perhaps this alternative will reach you:

    Dear BBC World Service

    I have been meaning to write for 40 years. Every time that there has been discussion about the need to cut components of the World Service.

    Once again your services are threatened.

    Finally writing to make the suggestion:

    Surely there are many people like myself who would be prepared to pay something for being able to continue to listen to the BBC World Service?

    Please consider opening an account into which either an annual subscription or a voluntary contribution could be made.

    Kind regards

    Robert McCutcheon


  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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