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Painful day for BBC World Service

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Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 14:16 UK time, Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Update, Monday 31 January: Thank you for your comments. I have replied to some of them here.

It's been a painful day for the BBC World Service and its audience of 180 million around the world. This morning I announced a fundamental restructure to the BBC World Service in order to meet the 16% savings target required by the UK government's Spending Review last October.

Sign for BBC Bush House


At the moment BBC WS is funded by Grant-in-Aid provided by the government.

BBC WS will be funded by the licence fee from April 2014.

Over the next three years, we will have to make to an annual saving of £46m by April 2014.

In all the changes announced today, the aim has been to protect the WS, its quality and reputation and, where possible, our footprint.

Our choices are based on the needs of our audiences and the limited resources that we now have available.

Under these proposals we expect 480 posts to close over the next year and by the time the BBC World Service moves in to the licence fee we estimate the number of proposed closures to reach up to 650.

Today I announced:

• The closure of five language services; Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian, as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service.

• The end of radio programmes in seven languages, focusing those services on online and new media content and distribution. These include: Azeri, Mandarin Chinese (note that Cantonese radio programming continues), Russian (some programmes will be distributed online only), Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian.

• Reduction of most short-wave and medium-wave distribution.

• In World Service English the schedule will become simpler and some programmes, Europe Today and Politics UK will be decommissioned. There are other changes to the schedule.

The closure of services and programmes is painful. This is not a reflection on their performance. They're all extremely important to their audiences and to the BBC. And I pay tribute to the brilliant journalists who have done a superb job for their audiences and the BBC.

We are making cuts that we would rather not be making.

We estimate that there will be an immediate drop of more than 30 million in our audience figures as a result of these measures. We will need to make investments in new content and services to be able to respond to competitive pressure and audience and technology changes. It's the only way to avoid further reductions in our reach.

In our programming in English, we will invest in some of our highest quality and best known radio programmes. World Have Your Say will have an extra daily edition and From Our Own Correspondent will add short daily programmes to its weekly offer.

Our aim has been to maintain the great quality of the English programming, despite the need to make significant savings. And I believe it is possible to do that.

The strength and quality of radio in English is the cornerstone of the World Service and long may it live.

From April 2014 BBC WS will be funded by the licence fee.

The director general and the BBC Trust have committed to protecting the World Service. The director general, Mark Thompson, said that he intends to restore some of the funding we are losing in the interest of audiences when World Service becomes licence fee-funded in 2014.

After today's announcements a lot will change.

What won't change is the BBC's aim to continue to be the world's best known and most trusted provider of high quality, impartial and editorially independent international news.

We will continue to bring the BBC's expertise, perspectives and content to the largest worldwide audience, which will reflect well on Britain and its people.

Finally, I am immensely proud of all the World Service staff that have, under a period of huge uncertainty, continued to deliver brilliant programmes. My aim is to ensure that, whatever the pain today and over the coming months, we will continue to produce that superb journalism and we remain the most trusted broadcaster in the world.

You can find details of my full speech to staff on the Press Office website.

I would very much like to have comments or questions from BBC audiences around the world, so please post your points here and I will endeavour to answer them.

Update 1130, 31 January: Thank you for your comments.

We have been overwhelmed by the messages of support both from our audiences and public opinion for BBC World Service. Most have expressed their disappointment at some of the decisions taken especially regarding closure of services and stopping short-wave distribution.

Let me clarify first one of the issues that is quite fundamental in the current debate - that of the funding of WS, as expressed in one of the comments here by James Rigby: "Why should the British licence-fee payer fund broadcasts for overseas audiences?".

Currently BBC World Service is funded by Grant-in-Aid from the FCO. The plans, I announced this week, cover the next three years till 2014. For the next three years, BBC WS will be funded by Grant-in-Aid from the FCO. It is this funding that has been cut as part of the government's Comprehensive Spending Review.

Many members of our audience have written to express their willingness to help with the cut to our funding. "I wish that before going to these drastic cuts that the BBC had asked people outside of the UK if they would be willing to pay for the services -I know I would pay!", writes cfgarside. We are grateful for those offers of support. But the charter under which the WS operates does not allow for receiving money from individuals to fund the WS.

BBC World Service Trust - the BBC's international charity - is funded by external grants and voluntary contributions and a small amount of core support from the BBC. It receives donations from the public.

BBC WS Trust works to strengthen the media in developing countries and shares expertise with broadcast partners. Some of the discussion programmes produced are also broadcast on World Service in various languages.

"I am deeply disappointed about the cutting of BBC WS Caribbean Service...Please reconsider us here," writes Frank Power.

BBC Caribbean service has indeed been a one of the oldest and most distinguished services the BBC has provided in English. The Caribbean Islands have important heritage links with the UK and BBC content will continue to be available through a number of outlets including a network of FM relays serving potentially 80% of the population in Antigua, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

I would be happy to respond to comments or questions from audiences around the world. Please do post them here.

Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC World Service.


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  • Comment number 1.

    A sad, sad day. Is there any democractic oversight of these management decisions? Why is there no consultation process with the BBC Trust regarding the use of license fee payer's money?

  • Comment number 2.

    As an expat in Russia, I'm very saddened by today's news. Can someone please clarify - will the World Service continue to broadcast in Russia in English, without the Russian language programs, or the whole service will be cut? Also, is it clear when the cuts in service will come into effect?

  • Comment number 3.

    If there must be cuts, then so be it, but the overseas aid development budget, which has been ringfenced, could have been raided by the chancellor in order to maintain the world service at existing levels. After all, the world service was cut back only recently, and the provision of independent information and high quality analysis to countries without well-developed democracies must be at least as important a contribution to international stability and progress as much of what is funded by the overseas aid budget is.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is not particularly about the World Service, but an overall comment.

    At such a time, BBC elite get on a very high horse indeed about the key role of the BBC and its excellence, as in your reference to 'world's best known and most trusted provider of high quality, impartial and editorially independent international news'.

    Well it's not that good. I am certainly not speaking up for cuts - but am suggesting that you could do a much better job - if that is not heresy.

    The BBC always gets high approval from the UK public, as the BBC likes to tout, but compared with what, and to what actual level? Compared with commercial media it is trusted - but that doesnt mean it couldn't be a whole lot better in bringing information at least to the UK public sphere. Most people would realise that any negativity in an opinion on the BBC would be counterproductive and used to reduce the service, when most people would want a whole lot more from the service for which they pay.

    Because its easy, we have a current affairs service that runs along behind the national political agenda, picking up on what a politician said today, and then asking their opposite number for a tit-for-tat response.

    This is so much of BBC 'current affairs'. This approach not only lacks depth and meaning, and is pretty low level work, but importantly it takes up the space and the resources, which could be used to present more meaningful material, and more necessary information. Same old lightweight and superficial approach, day after day, fitting perfectly with what politicians want kept OFF the screen, as their political spin doctors are well aware.

    There are no BBC staff who have any idea of the international trade agenda, and none have bothered to inform themselves. But this is the framework into which the national agenda fits.

    We should have full information on the political economy model we are having thrust upon us, how it works, where we are heading, what poltiicans are hiding, and it should be properly debated - not kept off the screen.

    But because the BBC staff know nothing about the international trade framework, wherein it all gets permanently fixed, we hear nothing about it.

    We never hear anything on liberalisation, or labour liberalisation - all the stuff that is touching lives so much. And that is the case with the minimal and ill-informed Brussels reporting that we get, too.

    Compared with what we should be getting, what passes, daily, as 'political' and 'economic' reporting, is drivel - often presented, and presumably 'researched', through a screen of sloppy, elitist, liberal values, and with a too-heavy dose of arrogance.

    I know that the immediate response to any such critique will be 'we only have so many resources, and they are not enough' - because that is always the response. But endless resources would not address this lack. What is needed is for BBC staff to climb down from the high horse and start to report what the people who pay, want to hear about.

  • Comment number 5.

    Only those who have sat in foreign country with a undemocratic government, state-censored media or partisan law-enforcement and listened for the words, "This is the BBC World Service" will truly understand the enormous and wide-ranging impact of these needless cuts; they are imposed by non-comprehending politicians who fail to understand that our national reputation for even-handedness and objectivity in reporting and honesty in trade and government and personal integrity are at stake. If this cuts for all policy is followed through - as the BBC Trust are bound and obliged to do at present - the names of William Hague and Jeremy Hunt should be recorded as those of two men with small and uncreative minds ready to remove their nation from the world stage in order to make relatively small but ideologically-driven cuts of little financial significance in the solving national debt, at the expense of losing future reputation, integrity and business which might well contribute to national prosperity, and international influence.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why cut BBC World Service? BBC World Service is an institution. Why not cut directors' and senior staff salaries? Up to 50%?

  • Comment number 7.

    Broadcasting to the world is one thing, but employing 2,500 people at a cost to the British taxpayer of some £250 million per annum in order to broadcast in some thirty two different languages is beyond belief. The whole concept is ludicrous and totally unjustifiable , especially in these times of national belt tightening. Most if not all of the countries being broadcast to have their own national media and neither require nor will thank Britain for the BBC's interference. Indeed if anything, where the broadcasts are being made to nations which can hardly be described as our friends or in fact may be exactly the opposite in reality , then more emnity might be the net result.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a resident in the english-speaking Caribbean on-and-off for the last 36 years and continuously for the last 20 years, I am deeply disappointed about the cutting of the BBC World Service Caribbean Service. It has been my life-line to the world. Though there are plenty of other news' services around, especially as I am only an hour by air from the US mainland, none of them come near the BBc World Service, especially for news comment and objective broadcasting. It is indeed a sad day for me and i am sure for many many others around the Caribbean. It is only 2.75 hours per week.... surely the cutting of this cannot be creating such a huge saving for the BBC. Please re-consider us down here.

  • Comment number 9.

    I am really disappointed - the BBC WS is the only independent news service left in the world and now the politicians want to control that too..... shame shame. As an ex-pat I would willing pay something towards the costs of keeping the BBC free of politics....

  • Comment number 10.

    I have to say the way the bbc is funded, by us, is unusual in the world to start with. I would say this, why is there a licence fee at all when I can't think of any of the developed countries that still have it. It doesn't mean that the quality of the reporting goes down either. Look at Australia, they haven't had a licence fee for decades and yet they still have an independent news service.
    Consider this also, with the worldwide internet, there is always ways for people in other countries to gather uncensored news. There are plenty of them around.
    As for the wages paid at the bbc, if they were bought into line with the evolving hardship of the rest of the country, especially those at the top, perhaps even with the current licence fee, services could be maintained. When will there be a proper independent investigation of the wages paid so that we can than set salaries which reflect the true value of the work done especially as quite a lot seems to be one sided.

  • Comment number 11.

    re comment no 7 kaybraes

    this is something you should be proud of!!! USA and other major powers hardly broadcast in more than 2 or 3 languages...... even though they have more than 15 different language residents.

  • Comment number 12.

    HMV used to stand for His Master's Voice. The record label bearing dog which sat beside the ancient record player, presumably waiting nervously for the master to give instructions. The master in this instance is the government. I don't know if they management of the BBC feel ashamed. But even if they don't I feel ashamed on their behalf. That the BBC show kow-tow to the government - or is it the Murdock family? - I find appalling. I would like to express my greatest sympathies to all the staff at the World Service. You have been treated appallingly by spineless overpaid bureaucrats.

  • Comment number 13.

    Criticising the BBC for anything, is a bit like having a 'go' at the Church of England ! Totally pointless ! The 'nation shall speak unto nation' bit, is wearing a bit thin these days and the whole lot is beginning to look like some kind of gigantic milk cow ! Why in the world do the British Licence Payers have to fund this totally useless service !

  • Comment number 14.

    When overseas I have often found the World Service invaluable and am very disappointed that the government has seen fit to make these cuts. However during the reporting of the cutbacks to the service, on radio and tv and in this editors blog the language of 'unbiased' and 'impartial' reporting has been used. It is my view that there is no such thing: all reports come from a position and from a context. I think the BBC should work on a way of expressing the values which underpin its reporting.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is the BBC required by the government to maintain this service? If not, then why not shut it down? Why should the British licence-fee payer fund broadcasts for overseas audiences? Don't you know the Empire was wound down after 1945 as is no more?

  • Comment number 16.

    I wish that before going to these drastic cuts that the BBC had asked people outside of the UK if they would be willing to pay for the services - I know I would pay! The BBC is the best source of accurate international news information, IMO. I hope that there will be some way of re-instituting these services, and I highly recommend that the BBC consider international fees for those of us who would like to pay for the service.

  • Comment number 17.

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

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    This is just terrible news. I trust NPR (USA) will still be broadcasting your world reports! Tragic for those less able to learn of our leaders' machinations. Of course, they will likely "never see it coming."

    First we lose the world reports from PRI (Public Radio International) right before Bushco's infamous invasion... now this.

    I can only imagine what this development portends...

  • Comment number 20.

    You can look up the BBC on the net here.
    So no loss.

    Why do people complain? Is it because they lose something they got for nothing? Most likely.

    Get used to that there is no free meal in this world anymore.

    The kippers are short of a quit and cuts are made everywhere. The BBC is not a protected species.

    Who has time to listen to the radio.
    Where I am from you work, eat, relax and sleep. Listening to the radio is only as part of the alarm clock.

    I have a digital radio and more stations than you can poke a stick at, What's one or more station you don't even notice it.

    Life goes on.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mr Horrocks claims "My aim is to ensure that, whatever the pain today and over the coming months, we will continue to produce that superb journalism and we remain the most trusted broadcaster in the world."

    Perhaps, if that were true, politicians looking for whatever pennies they can find to chase their dogma would not be quite so quick to remove funding from such a treasure. They would surely look elsewhere.

    The BBC was the best, that is true, but it was quite an age ago now. People like Mr Horrocks should reflect upon what it is that we, the people, see that he apparently does not. Do the British people who fund the whole BBC non-commercial output really see the "most trusted broadcaster in the world" or is that accolade restricted to a small independent person with transmitter risking their life to channel the truth to anyone listening?

  • Comment number 22.

    Whilst, Radio 4 provides excellent and critically informed news about world affairs, the same cannot be said of BBC television news, which is increasingly piecemeal. Indeed, scrapping BBC News 24 would seem a better idea than disinvesting in the World Service. Al Jazeera do a far better job of providing comprehensive 24 hour world news. Take note BBC commissioners.

  • Comment number 23.


    This is really disappointing news - certainly understandable from an economic point of view given the current situation in the UK but disappointing nonetheless. One would have hoped there may have been some way to save some of the services though.

    I definitely agree with Jim (#6) above - the BBC World Service is an institution - particularly for those of us that live abroad. In fact, with the SABC leadership crisis in South African broadcasting and political interference in many other local broadcasters in Africa, services like those the BBC offers are essential.

    One can only hope that the economy recovers and that things will revert to normal soon. In the meantime, I for one would be willing to pay a license fee even based in Africa to continue to receive the BBC WS! No doubt many of my colleagues here feel the same.


  • Comment number 24.

    Did you consider Radio 1 before making this decision?

  • Comment number 25.

    Hi Peter - this is really sad news. For someone who travels a fair bit in Africa I particularly enjoy much of the BBC World Service foreign languages programming... agree with Pratish (comment #23) - I'd pay extra to keep the service maintained... perhaps this is an option to consider if enough foreign listeners feel the same? Or is it too late already?


  • Comment number 26.

    To those above who have mentioned the licence fee:

    The BBC World Service is not funded from the licence fee. It is funded directly by government. All governments have communications budgets to foster relations and disseminate ideas.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have just read the article/blog about the cuts to the World Service. In the past when I have been stationed overseas the World Service has been a link with unbiased and objective news and wider programme coverage. In respect of my own experiences this has included the run up and fall of the Berlin Wall (when I was based in Berlin), and the First Gulf War (when my former partner was serving in Iraq), and like so many people (not just Brits) across the world the service is that reassuring link with truth. I am now connected with the Portuguese Portuguese speaking world, and yes it is really sad news that this service will be cut! As so many comments state on this webpage: the World Service is more than just a radio service, it is a connection for so many across the world you have no other access to objective news reporting. In these globally troubled times do we not need more than ever the opportunity and openess for nation to speak peace unto nation?

  • Comment number 28.

    What a shame that the world service is suffering to save costs. One idea that could make major savings for the BBC as a whole. Front line news readers and sports commentators could be reduced. why do we need two news readers usually one man one woman who read the news one line at a time alternatively. For sex equality give them alternate days each. but two people to read the news plus one for sport sometimes two one for weather etc. and these are presumabably the most highly paid, could reduce costs. Big savings to be made here. The foregoing along with the reduction of other highly paid but mediocre performers, could assist. eg Kirsty Walk of Newsnight ( almost unintelligible). Alan Yentob what does he do etc?? etc.

  • Comment number 29.

    This really is upsetting news - as with Jane Wheeler (#27) I am currently a foreign correspondent for some Eastern European publications and the BBC World Service has been invaluable as an objective news source and checkpoint whilst I am abroad.

    Given that I am likely going to be doing some coverage in both Angola and Mozambique over the coming months it's really disappointing to hear about the cuts to the language services as well.

    @Kit Green (#26) - true for the moment (WS is currently funded by the state Grant-in-Aid) but as of 2014 the BBC WS will be funded by a license fee. I certainly echo the sentiments above in being willing to contribute to such a fee despite not even being British or in the UK. BBC WS is really that - a world service and it will be sad to see it so dramatically reduced.

    Oli (Czech on Africa blog)

  • Comment number 30.

    Ouch! I don't even know how you could write about all that downgrading in one post.

    There is a reason all this is happening though.

    Major media platforms such as the BBC have to align their content with the values of the new era. Meaning what people really need right now.

    In addition to all your regular content I would expect the world's leading provider of English content to start preparing people for the next phase.

    One way to do that would be to provide a special program or free online course to teach people about living in a global world. I would expect the BBC to actively help promote values that would help us create a sustainable future - for ourselves and for our children. Kids will need to learn how to survive in an increasingly interdependent world. We can't expect to give them the exact same education we received and hope everything to work out fine.

    The purpose would be to nurture people to become globally enlightened citizens of a society that adheres to universal moral principles of love and trust. The BBC would help encourage people of all walks of life to learn the laws of reality, the benefits of human bonding, how everything is connected, and how to live in harmony on a daily basis.

    The BBC needs to leverage all its power and reach around the world to provide people with the way out of the crisis and the key to a world of peace and prosperity.

  • Comment number 31.

    There is a good solution to this situation - stream the audio feed
    from bbc world service television over the bbc world service radio
    outputs (shortwave, internet, worldscape, hotbird and other satellite
    channels). This can be done 80-95% of the time. and then for each
    timezone have some live bbc world service radio stuff every day or
    maybe every weekend. as crisis develop, then devote up to 100% live
    output to that country or region (e.g. ivory coast, tunisia, egypt,
    zimbabwe, sudan, haiti etc). would save a pile of money. tv coverage
    could be slightly modified to take into account the fact that some of
    the audience are not seeing the video, but not essential. cnn did this
    with worldspace for some years and it was very effective. mr alex
    weir, london, harare and gaborone

  • Comment number 32.

    @Alex (31) - this is an excellent suggestion and one would expect quite a cost-effective one. At least the English service would be available for all. It's really unfortunate about the foreign language services being dumped though - I know many of my journalist colleagues stationed outside the UK find the BBC WS invaluable.

    Am actually quite surprised at the low number of responses on BBC Have your say post on this topic. Still, it's pretty clear that listeners are not happy with the news of the cuts.


  • Comment number 33.

    @SizeweM (32) - the savings made on the no-longer-required and/or reduced English language stuff (and BBC TV also does arabic transmission!) could enable non-english broadcasts to be resumed and/or expanded.... Alex Weir, London Harare and Gaborone

  • Comment number 34.

    Yes, but.......

    why keep Cantonese and drop the national language of China?

  • Comment number 35.

    When growing up, I used to watch BBC World to learn about the world. I looked forward with impatience to the documentaries that aired during the weekends. I learnt so much on topics as varied as Renaissance Europe to our Universe and the evolution of Physics during the early 20th century etc. During college, when I did not have access to TV, I used to listen to BBC World Service radio on shortwave. It was an immensely enriching experience. I feel sad at the cuts in your service. The BBC is a trustworthy and impartial source of news and information for millions around the world. It is an good source of 'soft-power' for the UK. Short-sighted cuts like these would mean a loss of influence among sections of the world population who cannot afford anything more than a radio.


  • Comment number 36.

    This is the Last Trump (or rather 'Whimper', for I cannot see even the Dead rising from this one!) -

    - the decline and fall of a once-great world power.
    A nation saying to the world "I have had enough, you take over now".

    A sad, sad day.

  • Comment number 37.

    I agree with most of the posts here about the importance of the WS to people all around the world. I am an Albanian national and the news of BBC WS closing the Balkan services, especially the Albanian Service, could not come at the worst time for my country and the region as a whole. In Albania we counted on BBC for impartial and professional coverage of events at a time when the local media are as much at loggerheads with each other as the absurd and bordering-on-criminal politicians they support (see The situation in Kosovo is equally a mess. Serbia is not faring much better. I doubt that the money the FCO and the BBC will save by closing down these services would make that much of a difference to the British public, while the the gap their closure will create in the Balkans is immense. I don't think this has really been thought through.

  • Comment number 38.

    The reason for the restructuring is what sickens!
    Up to now, we have a media organisation run on government hand-outs? What are the MBAs doing?
    BBC should surely have evolved to be able to generate revenue.

  • Comment number 39.

    In Egypt the government has closed down internet access and mobile phone services, yet the BBC WS justification for cutting shortwave and medium wave is how technology is wonderfully letting people listen to it through other means.

    Quite simply, tyrannies can shut down those means with ease. To abandon the only technology proven to easily bypass borders and dictatorial censors is short sighted. The internet is not useful for many in developing countries and cannot help in crisis.

    Of course people have alternatives, but will people really want to trust China Radio International which is in 53 languages, 24 hours a day in English on shortwave globally?

    Yes the BBCWS should cut where demand is low, Macedonian and Serbian can be seen as low priority, but Russian and Chinese?

  • Comment number 40.

    When I see comments such as "These cuts imposed by politicians", "politicians taking over the BBC" and "The BBC is kow towing to the Murdochs" I wonder if it wouldn't have been better closing down HYS. At least there is some semblance of sanity of the world service.

  • Comment number 41.

    Everybody is being hit by this 'recession' and it's a delusion to believe that there is going to be a 'recovery', things are going to get very much worse.

    Support the Zeitgeist movement and a Resource Based Economy. Watch the fantastic new documentary on you tube called, 'Zeitgeist moving forward,official release,2011' and that includes the BBC moderators who must be just as concerned about their own futures as we all are.

  • Comment number 42.

    No great loss. In recent weeks when I come to the BBC for news all I see is intrusive Samsung advertising. I can't even read a single page without it jumping into my face. Samsung Samsung Samsung. In the rest of the world 2011 will be seen as the year of People Power; in the BBC it will merely be the year when Samsung became more important than the news.

  • Comment number 43.

    Disgraceful. The BBC is a jewel in the UK's crown; it acts as a key ambassador for this country around the world. The World Service and the BBC website is crucial - not just for people around the globe, but for a new generation of British who use the internet as a primary source for news, entertainment and information.

    Surely we can stop this? Enrol some volunteers perhaps?

    We've lost Royal Mail and Cadbury's; we're losing the Royal Mint and gosh knows what else; let us stand up for the best of British and not lose the best of the BBC as well...

  • Comment number 44.

    You have children and teachers protesting and police kettling them .. this coalition sucks. Strikes you ain't seen nothing yet, smash them tories

  • Comment number 45.

    The impartial, objective, balanced, ethical, professional, superb BBC?

    Only for those who lean so far to the left of the political spectrum that they are practically falling over. For several decades now the BBC has represented nobody else. Political affiliation to the right or centre should be a valid reason for not paying the licence fee.

  • Comment number 46.

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  • Comment number 47.

    Wake up!!!

    Liam Byrne had the message you don't want to acknowledge when Labour first left office, 'there is no money left'. The BBC lefties endlessly supported the Labour government with their overweight departments and ridiculous spending now you are reaping what was sown by them.

    Its no use complaining now, if you have an organisation full of empire builders then at some point the empire will be trimmed back. Get used to it, this is just the beginning. It may seem harsh but its a bit like Simon Cowell being honest on the X factor, if you aren't doing well there is no point in believing its all going to be OK.

    Maybe by accepting that you have to be leaner you can actually upgrade what you are doing and do a few things really well instead of just providing a left wing filter for yesterdays news, being quality should be your first objective not an add-on.

  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 49.

    Interestingly, while this service is cut back because of an apparent lack of funds - we have still three senior members of the News Team: Steph, Bob, and Nik out in Davos. While Davos is running over the weekend, I haven't heard much from the boys this weekend. I know it is still early, but nevertheless several and varied questions come to mind.

  • Comment number 50.

    Very sad - if it really has to come about - but it coincides with such major news from North Africa and the Middle east that I hope against hope that the FO will recognise the importance of having a route to tell all what is going on.

    I can understand that some areas have ceased to be as important as they once were, but I would just like to tell about our experiences in N E Spain where we holiday regularly. We have a WS radio and were used to changing bands regularly through the day to maintain reception. This now has virtually ceased anyway, yet, and here's my main point, Chinese Radio International continues to broadcast with ever stronger signals throughout the day on one band and wavelength. We do listen to it, filtering out the obvious propaganda content, but Oh how we miss the balanced BBC WS service we used to have.

    We have now resorted to taking out R4 podcasts from the UK just to hear some decent balanced programmes - but it's not the same as the world view WS gives.

    It is a very sad day when the only decent radio has to succumb to the Chancellor's chopper.

    Graham Follett

  • Comment number 51.

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  • Comment number 53.

    I am a US citizen who listens to the World Service through a Public Radio station. I appreciate the World Service's mission and would be willing to donate something to it (besides what I am implicitly paying though my support of the radio station). I see there is a World Service Trust, but no entity for the World Service itself.

  • Comment number 54.

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  • Comment number 55.

    Yes indeed, it is a sad day. It reminds me of something that happened in Canada some years ago during the rule of the Conservative government. They decided that it was time to kill cross-Canada passenger train service. They knew they could not do it in one fell swoop because it would not only lead to high unemployment, but because it would elicit protests from various sides. After all, the railway is what created Canada and kept it united.

    Their tactic was simple: at the presentation of each budget, they would cut back the subsidy given the crown corporation and each time they did this, services worsened, train frequencies were reduced, safety issues began to appear. The railway raised its systematically raised its prices, thus reducing the passenger load. Naturally, those changes elicited protests and the government's answer always was: but look, there are less and less passengers so obviously no one wants to use the train; so why throw good money after bad?

    And so, the cycle went on until the railway was buried. Is this what may be happening at the BBC? It does sound like it is the first step on long (maybe shorter) slippery road towards oblivion.

    After all, we all know that the BBC has, variously, been a thorn in the side of government

  • Comment number 56.

    Painful day for the world service ? The BBC makes it painful for ALL the legitimate letter writers.

    Subjects which appear to be taboo to the BBC like, Overseas donations, Overseas Spending, Dis-enchantment with the Gov, Rise in Taxes, Fuel Duty, Immigration, Closing our borders, deporting immigrants and general resentment that we are being taken over by the EU and bled by the very people we elected to protect us.

    My son in law was sacked from his job quite simply because the company owner found it was cheaper to employ a Pole who agreed to fiddle his tachometer and drive for much longer than he is legally allowed to, where as my son in law would not do this so he was sacked.

    The stupidity of the EU laws which are in direct conflict with what the British Public want and yet we are forced to abide by the same.

    Besides this any member of the public that gets interviewed on television by the BBC, there is a 90% chance of them being coloured. The BBC make sure of they are, and yet the British Public is not supposed to notice that they are coloured as this is against the equality laws. As well as this when there is a panel on the BBC it is normal for 80% of the panel to be coloured where as only 25% of the nation is of that ethnic origin so this is NOT a true representation of the nation is it ?

    BBC you are institutionally racist against the British White ethnic origin.

    I know you will not print this as you do not want the British Public to read the truth, only the truth as the BBC and the Government nominate shall be seen, not as the majority of the British see it.

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    The Foreign Office reductions in grant in aid to the BBC mean in particular that short wave transmissions to some of the poorest regions in the world will end. These are places where internet access is limited, literacy is an issue and local governments block FM re-broadcasting when it suits their purposes. These essential services must be considered as a priority in any review.

    The team who ranted to save 6Music are back and it's even more important this time.

    Visit and sign the petition


  • Comment number 59.

    No loss at all if it's coverage of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have been anything like that given out by BBC News and Online and has added 'national self determination','freedom', 'revolt', and of course 'democracy',et al, to those other 'through my gritted teeth'dangerous so tellingly missing during the Chilean miners rescue like 'fathers', husbands,'religious','patriotic', et al; and who can forget the startling a-human materialism of the question to the Chilean President ''How much is it costing''?

  • Comment number 60.

    As an old guy living in Oakland California, I almost passed out from holding my breath when I put the BBC World NEWS on today. It is no more! It has turned into Channel 7 or 5 or 2 or 4. In depth, Award winning, Killer Apps, Time check down to the nanosecond for Tokyo. BBC is a subtle reaffirmation of the dying English Language daily. Now it's gone. Even Mike Embly had a 'funny' look on his face. The most confusing was to advertise the new ruined BBC news with Channel 7 or 5 or PBS self assured statements concerning its virtues
    which had been replaced by the statements Recursion in Fractal mathematics. Why not just Announce the Change with a statement right away. Please don't assume that we are all morons or that you know who we are. But now I see that it is about budget cuts and that is OK because we all know what that is, and you are doing the best that you can.Like being caught by a Boa Constrictor, each time you relax and exhale, it tightens. And the part that I did see was the loudest face-in-the-camera-guy in Egypt was calling for an Islamic Government. Come to think about it, maybe no news is the smart ticket.

  • Comment number 61.

    An educated public and cultural communications are the cornerstones of democracy....that is why politicians do not like them. As people communicate within and across borders the political get very uncomfortable.The politicians find it harder to lie so they just ignore realities.
    No one in government has yet to put the blame where it belongs. The scheming bankers and their elected facilitators created these problems over the last decade and now someone has to pay and it is us...not them. If governments continue to be halls of corruption and corporate interests they will find, like in Egypt, that one day the people will have had enough and like in Egypt, they will be surprised and try to retain their power when, as the Chinese like to say, they have lost the mandate from heaven.
    What has been called the Financial Crisis, in reality the greatest crime in history, continues like a tsunami around the world and the full impact has yet to be felt. One day accountability will be unavoidable.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

    Peter, this is sad news indeed - I am a huge fan of the BBC World Service and rely on it often when I'm travelling abroad for extended periods - especially the short wave services. One can understand the impact of the financial crisis in the banking industry but one would really have hoped that these type of job cuts could have been avoided.

    @61 ghostofsichuan- this is exactly the reason why the BBC WS is so important. Cutting back on this area is really a disservice to many more than just local politicians. The extent to which the service is relied upon overseas as an objective news source is staggering.

    Peter, I've visited the BBC WS Trust... the donations site you've mentioned - from the comments above it seems that many, including myself would be happy to contribute (and encourage others to contribute!) to maintaining the service. Individuals are certainly not able to contribute as much as corporates but I think it would still be useful to publish some 'target markers' on the donations site - e.g. amount still needed to retain short wave service etc - it will make contributions more relevant to an outcome which I believe will help raise funds substantially.

    Nayna - UK blogger abroad hoping this situation will only be a temporary one!

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

    One can certainly lament the cuts to the BBC World Service but it would be wrong to blame the govt. In the current economic straits the country finds itself in the license payer/tax-payer can no longer be expected to fund the profligate spending indulged in by the BBC that sees a three year BBC contract netting Jonathan Ross over £18 million or enables Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans to purchase a £12 million sports car. It is time that the BBC reined in its spending and where it chooses to place those cuts will be a reflection of the BBC Managements own views - it is they who bear the sole responsibility for this!

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

    Many punters around the world must be wondering whether the BBC's Beeching plan for the World Service will liberate some money to go towards the hiring of some proper copy-editors for the webpages of BBC News.

  • Comment number 70.

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

  • Comment number 71.

    There are many people in the nations now not served by the BBC that will indeed miss this service, as will the rest of the world for the lack of hearing about their difficulties and accomplishments.
    Unrelated question - the excellent "Have Your Say" part of the online BBC is much more difficult to locate now, is that also a diminished program? If so, that is also unfortunate.

  • Comment number 72.

    Says janetcanada in #71 at "05:52am on 03 Feb 2011":

    "[. . .] the excellent "Have Your Say" part of the online BBC is much more difficult to locate now, [. . .]"

    There's a chance that it's more by accident than by design.

    "[. . .] is that also a diminished program? If so, that is also unfortunate."

    True, either way.

  • Comment number 73.

    No more propaganda from the BBC around the world... such SAD news!

    The Aung San Suu Kyi was pitiful!

  • Comment number 74.

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

  • Comment number 75.

    Living in the prairies of Illinois, in the USA, keeping abreast of world affairs can be somewhat difficult... I do envy the people that live in the UK for being able to access BBC TV and radio... I either browse BBC Online (daily) or listen to the World Service when I can....
    Thank you for the wonderful service and keep up the good work!!!

    Larry Woller
    Ogden, Illinois USA

  • Comment number 76.

    Please Don't Cut Macedonian Service!

  • Comment number 77.

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

  • Comment number 78.

    I always hate to see a broadcasting station of some qualiity come under threat, I do however agree with what a lot of Stayingcool (post 4)has to say
    many of the isues he raises about both a lack of depth of BBC news, and the amount of subject it simply doesn't cover like the nature of globalized economic world and what that actually means, the place of labour in that ... civil liberties and human rights issues both here and abroad..I randomly pick one of interest to me - what is the basis of the practic of stoning as a capital punishment, ie what in Sharia law is its basis, the philosphy if you like behind it - perticularly applicable which a recent Iranian woman who was saved from being stoned to death by the power of an international petition but now serves sentence in a prison where she will proably lose her mind and be seriously abused. Environmental issues like the dependence on oil and what that is doing to precious regions it is taken from and about to start in a furhter area of the arctic. Staying cool raised important issues that are not being address nearly enough and with enough quality. i currently have to swap around my news providers: bbc to al jazeera to russian news to channel 4 just to try to pick up the big stories znd indepth looks at specific items, sometimes i am lucky.

    I also loved what Josia Nakash said
    'In addition to all your regular content I would expect the world's leading provider of English content to start preparing people for the next phase.

    One way to do that would be to provide a special program or free online course to teach people about living in a global world. I would expect the BBC to actively help promote values that would help us create a sustainable future - for ourselves and for our children. Kids will need to learn how to survive in an increasingly interdependent world. We can't expect to give them the exact same education we received and hope everything to work out fine.

    The purpose would be to nurture people to become globally enlightened citizens of a society that adheres to universal moral principles of love and trust. The BBC would help encourage people of all walks of life to learn the laws of reality, the benefits of human bonding, how everything is connected, and how to live in harmony on a daily basis.'

    i'm sorry, i've been watching whats happening in Egypt for 24 hours and am exhausted, the above contributors summed up my thoughts so much better than I could have.

    One thing however: Joshua Goldblum (56) i'm hoping that you didn't mean to offend as highly as you did with the statement 'Besides this any member of the public that gets interviewed on television by the BBC, there is a 90% chance of them being coloured' absolutley factually incorrect, and we dont use the word 'coloured', not for ourselves who may be a creamish colour, or an olivish colour, or a bronzish colour or even a pinkish colour. the so called 'coloured' you were refering to I would imagine would prefer to be called Black!

  • Comment number 79.

    This too is a general comment about the quality rather than the world service cuts.

    With the advent of advertising on the website, it is clear that the impartiality of the BBC has been compromised, for example we now get travel guides in the guise of news reports to appease the lonely planet sponsor.

    A quick search of news stories about lonely planet also reveals that the lonely planet is mentioned much more often in BBC "news" stories since it became a sponsor of the website.

  • Comment number 80.

    Why close when human beings are able to enhance, crate, innovate, imagine? Why just turn around?

  • Comment number 81.

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

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

    You can't just blame the beeb for this.

    Just remember this is rip off Britain always has been and always will be.
    We support the world though our tax, donations and licensing system.

    Way back in 88 I remember getting Sky in Saudi Arabia for £8 a year.
    I was also receiving Sky in the UK and paying £12 per month for the same privilege but fewer channels.

    So what’s changed ? Nowt a big fat nowt.

    To rent a house is on average £600 per month in Spain / New Zealand it is below £400 per month.
    Rip off Britain comes through again.

  • Comment number 84.

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

  • Comment number 85.

  • Comment number 86.

    The population of the whole world is approaching 7 Billion people and the BBC World service claims it has an audiance of 180 million people! So much for a "world service"

  • Comment number 87.

    This is probably the wrong place to say this, but could the BBC website team keep the 'Economy Tracker' up to date, as I often refer to this:

    BBC News - Economy Tracker

    In fact It would be great if this was developed further with more economic and government data.


  • Comment number 88.

    Perhaps starting BBC3 a couple of hours later (or scrapping it) would provide the necessary resources. We would miss such wonders as 'Hotter than my Daughter', or 'Snog, Marry, Avoid?' but I'm sure we could cope.

    Seriously, the World Service fits into the BBC's public service remit, the dross on BBC3 doesn't. The solution is easy, the failure to use it says a lot about BBC management and their motivation.

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    '87. At 3:28pm on 07 Feb 2011, Charles Jurcich wrote:
    ..could the BBC website team keep the 'Economy Tracker' up to date,..'

    Hope springs eternal.

    Seems they gave up on this about a month ago.

    Maybe it was loss of interest? Or things became interesting in the wrong way?

  • Comment number 91.

    I agree completely, as an academic who works with both political affairs and international political economy, I'm always left wanting in the level of economic analysis on the BBC. I'm certain that a fair number of people don't come here to read articles you may find in the Economist, but the BBC is uniquely British - in its view as well as its audience. No longer can one afford to be ignorant in light of everything that's happened beginning with Lehman. This is something almost every major newspaper is guilty of, but news agencies like the Reuters make a better effort than BBC.

    But I have serious misgivings about your last sentence - the day the BBC starts giving people what they want rather than what they must know, it will turn into the cheap news trick company that Murdoch likes to run. Thanks, but no thanks. This red website is for my purposes a vital and competent reminder of good journalism.

  • Comment number 92.

    The BBC is par excellence. There is no doubt about that! However listeners the world over are watching every move the BBC takes especially with regard to the government cost-cutting measures! Of course the BBC directors are dependent on the cost-cutting policies of the government. But the crucial point is that these measures would deprive thousands of listeners abroad wanting to improve their education and knowledge of key issues which could open up new career opportunities as well. The export of knowledge has so many satisfying returns which may be difficult to quantify: so many students and intellectuals have been so dependent on the BBC worldservice in the past. Now that critical resource has been slashed there is a real danger that the UK's most important export, knowledge and educational resources, is being curtailed. What a pity the new government is squeezing the BBC of vital resources.

  • Comment number 93.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 94.

    Mr. Horrocks:
    Will the Europe Today and Politics UK teams (journalists and staff) been provided with an opportunity to work on the other shows on BBC World Service...

    Rochester, New York

  • Comment number 95.

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

  • Comment number 96.

    This responds to posts from "stayingcool" (post 4), "C" (post 78) and "FlexibleCogito" (post 91): on many points made, I agree with all of them - and simultaneously I do disagree with ALL of them.

    For instance, @stayingcool has made various sound points (at least one of them highly valid):

    -- e.g., s/he claims "you (i.e., BBC) could do a much better job", and s/he's pointed to various (possibly valid) instances - but s/he's given little indication that s/he would do it significantly better if the responsibility were handed over to her/him!

    (But this is not an uncommon failing. In an instance relating to another field: I am a pretty high-standard chess player when I'm watching someone else play: I can generally find moves that are significantly better than those actually played. But when I play myself, my standards are NEVER that high! As noted, this is a very common failing, and I suspect that it may be part of what @stayingcool is suffering from).

    -- @c agreed with much of @stayingcool's comments - but also failed to indicate just how BBC could become much better given the constraints it may be labouring under.

    -- @FlexibleCogito disagrees with @stayingcool's desire that BBC should give people more of what they "want", as follows: "the day the BBC starts giving people what they want rather than what they must know, it will turn into the cheap news trick company that Murdoch likes to run."

    Well okay, BBC in general does do a truly excellent job (and Murdoch's 'trick companies' are indeed very tricky [even lousy]) - but who is to decide what "people must know" versus what they "want to know"? [I do agree that Murdoch's "trick companies" would be very poor role models indeed for BBC to follow (or even to look at)!]

    Yet, in a 'democracy' (even a nominal not real democracy), people should certainly get a fair bit of what they "want", surely? I notice that BBC does do a pretty good job of taking into consideration what people may want - and this kind of comment column IS a good way of finding out what people may want.

    But does it do enough of this, effectively enough? My claim is - probably not enough, effectively enough. Can it be done better? I claim that it very definitely can (and that without any huge expenditure of time or resources).

    BBC is truly outstanding in most of what it does (relative to other channels of news, etc). Can it become even better? I claim that it can:

    In essence, BBC needs to articulate just what it believes its 'Vision' and 'Mission' and objectives are - and I believe it must have done all of this pretty well.

    However, what it probably has NOT done is to articulate - formally, with adequate effectiveness - specifically how the great many things it does from day to day "MAY CONTRIBUTE" to Vision, Mission and objectives.

    There are simple tools available to help do this - but these tools are not widely known. The late John N. Warfield made some seminal contributions to 'systems science' - and developed powerful modeling tools to enable, very specifically, people to model, graphically, just how the things one does from day to day may contribute to each other and to the Mission that one might have set up. I'd recommend that the BBC may like to investigate such tools. More information about Warfield's contributions to systems science is available at and at the "John N. Warfield Collection" held at the library of George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA (where Warfield was Emeritus Professor) - see An intensive and extensive study of Warfield's work could, I believe help the BBC hugely - it would get a very much better alignment of what it does from day to day to what it wants to accomplish.


  • Comment number 97.

    The gutting of the shortwave broadcasting to Europe over the last years has been a terrible enough, but now also closing down 648 kHz is an absolute disaster. Basically, BBC WS has become unavailable when away from a decent internet connection large parts of Germany.

  • Comment number 98.

    For sure the Gov wants to follow the BBC and stop ALL overseas services and spend our money at home.

    Our so called forces are all abroad, whats left of them, our tax gets spent abroad in over 90 countries to the tune of £800 billion and the gov sees fit to tax us out of existance along with totally unecessary cuts in all the services which we hold so dear.

    Why not cut the gov down to 10 MP's we would be better off thats for sure.

  • Comment number 99.

    This is the first time I have my comment in english,there are many words I can't understand.But I will try my best to read and understand it.This time isn't a forme comment,I just to cofirme that I can post my own comments.That's all,thank you!

  • Comment number 100.

    WORLD SERVICE or most stations the BBC is just another way to push the left wing agenda.Those that want to listen to it are welcome.In a so called democracy we should have a choice.


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