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Why is the BBC calling the anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya 'rebels'?

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Rajan Datar | 13:22 UK time, Friday, 2 September 2011

Why is the BBC still calling the anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya, 'rebels'?

Two listeners, Graeme Doel in Australia and Tamim Foder in Egypt, share the same feeling - as Tamim put it "Please stop calling the Libyan freedom fighters 'rebels' - they are fighters for democracy."

I spoke to Acting Head of News, Jamie Angus, who said that the news team had been using the term rebels up to the beginning of this week and a lot less since then.

He said that the BBC is trying to reflect the situation on the ground where there is on-going military action.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) forces refer to themselves as liberation forces but the BBC does not, as it has a value weighting to it.

When the NTC moves to Tripoli and declares itself a government the BBC will cease to use the word rebels entirely.

For Jamie, the key point is for "The BBC to use the right language which takes the audience with us and makes clear what we are talking about."

Regular listeners to Over to You might remember that in June we covered the case of Urunboy Usmonov, a journalist for the BBC Central Asian Service.

He was detained by authorities in Tajikistan for alleged links to banned Islamist group Hizb-ut Tahrir .

These are charges he has repeatedly denied but nonetheless Urunboy is currently on trial in Tajikistan.

To update us on the trial's progress, I was joined by his colleague and the Head of the BBC's Central Asian Service Hamid Ismailov.

He explained that Urunboy had been in touch with members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in his professional capacity to interview them as an accredited journalist in Tajikistan.

At Urunboy's trial, it has been revealed that he has been tortured with cigarette burns on his arms. Hamid said that the BBC is standing firm that Urunboy is innocent and must be released without charges.

Finally, is news about the UK on the World Service too London-focused? If so, is that a problem?

We were contacted by Andrew Pearce from Formby in the North West of England - over 200 away from London - who is concerned that the World Service's news output is unfairly biased towards the capital city.

I put Andrew's point to Steve Titherington, Senior Commissioning Editor for the World Service who said that, "Where the story deserves it and the BBC is not in the capital, it's important to point out the distinctions where there are distinctions, and where there are commonalities, talk about the commonalities."

What do you think? We're always interested to hear from you at Over to You.

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.

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