The BBC World Service is not an arm of the Foreign Office

时间:2019-11-16  作者:公仪煜  来源:合乐888登陆  浏览:28次  评论:38条

It is a bit late in the day for Peter Horrocks to complain about BBC World Service underfunding in the face of ratcheted-up competition from Moscow and Beijing (, 22 December). When on 9 March 2011 to explain the new BBC licence fee-funded regime for the World Service, MPs repeatedly offered to mount a campaign to help him to ask for a better settlement for the World Service. Horrocks as repeatedly declined their offers of support, insisting the BBC as a whole must accept funding reductions. That looks like a strategic error, as does the earlier closure of direct broadcasting to Russia and central Europe on the grounds that pluralism of communication and information was now freely available in those countries.

There is a source of funding readily available to the World Service – the huge annual underspend in the international aid budget. This should be made available to the World Service, not because it is deemed to make a contribution to development but because it serves the essential needs of listeners for unbiased information. BBC World Service is a broadcaster, not an aid agency, and should be funded as such. The World Service was never an arm of the Foreign Office. It must not become a division of overseas aid.
John Tusa
Managing director, 1986-92

You compare the BBC’s international activities, funding and audiences with those of its Russian counterparts. You say that the World Service’s current global reach is 191 million. That figure is based on recent representative, quantitative research in many countries around the world. You say Russian Today claims “it can reach 700 million”. That is like saying the Grauniad can reach 64 million people in the UK. Both sentences are equally meaningless.

The one thing I do know is that Russia’s international broadcasting activities have never been very successful anywhere. In the Soviet days, surveys carried out in most countries showed tiny audiences for Radio Moscow. I think the only places where we ever found audiences of any significant size for Radio Moscow were where it broadcast in a language that other international broadcasters were not using; examples I remember were in India and west Africa. But all those modestly successful services were closed during the 1990s, when all state-funded Russian international broadcasting began to put a heavy emphasis on English. I have seen no evidence from anywhere that this move has been successful in audience terms.

Radio Moscow, now the Voice of , and its TV counterparts, unlike the BBC, do not carry out any kind of regular audience measurement. So they have no idea about the size, nature or whereabouts of their audiences. My guess is that they are very small, and almost certainly smaller than they were in communist days.
Graham Mytton
Head of audience research, BBC World Service 1982-98

Your report raises the familiar issue of the competing obligations to domestic and foreign constituencies. The World Service is a huge asset doing generally excellent work. But why should home licence fee payers meet the bill for the provision of an international public good and/or a foreign policy instrument?

This dilemma was an all too predictable result of the decision to fund the World Service out of the licence fee. It is all very well to say now that this will help the BBC to defend the very principle of the licence fee, but that will not solve the problem of long-term resourcing. The answer is for the government to grasp the nettle of the need to fund external broadcasting by hypothecating a given amount out of general taxation to be ring-fenced within the BBC’s budget, thus preserving both journalistic independence and the resources necessary to do the job – which are very small beer in relation to, say, the defence budget.
Christopher Hill
Professor of international relations, University of Cambridge

Every day, and three times each day, I take the news from Russia Today, the BBC, ITN and Sky. The best for world coverage and the avoidance of patronising “human-interest” leads is RT. Though it is true that it gives the Russian angle on many stories – on which Sky is equally US-biased – much of the reporting is factual, broader than all the other channels, and pro-US interviews, critical of the Russian government, are often broadcast from the US. Your article quotes ex-RT broadcasters with clear axes to grind; the truth is that the depth and balance of are in many ways superior to our own BBC, which is often lazy, with stereotypical and predictable vox pop interviews and the shallowest of comment. The best news programme of all, however, is Channel Four News.
Ian Flintoff

I would not look to Russia Today to tell me what is going on in Russia, or to give a complete picture of what is going on in the wider world. Neither would I look to the BBC to tell me what is going on in this country or the wider world.

RT regularly gives information about important events that should be reported on the BBC but never are.
Brendan O’Brien