Wednesday, December 12, 2007

75th Anniversary Programming - BBC World Service

From my NASWA Journal December column:

December marks the 75th anniversary of the BBC’s efforts in international broadcasting; the Empire Service, later more humbly called the World Service, made its debut in 1932; there is a special season of programs celebrating the BBC and freedom of information. This special season is called Free To Speak.

The subjects below – in part analyzing how the BBC and other global news media gather, prioritize, edit, and report news, should be very interesting to those who are interested in how the BBC decides what to put on air.

Monday, December 10th and 17th, Making News: Allan Little examines the notion of impartial journalism, and explores how news is presented in a two-part series beginning Monday, December 10th. The series assesses newsmakers’ reflexes and ideas about news priorities on Monday 10 December. Allan Little conducts a comparative study of one particular day in three international television news channels - BBC World, Al Jazeera, and CNN – as they explain and justify their news agenda for the day. Making News shows up at the various editorial meetings to find out how the organizations create their priorities and shape the treatment of the day’s news. The program also hears from critics who blame modern rolling news culture, with its reliance on striking visual images and shock to win the holy grail of audience share. On Monday, December 17th, Allan Little explores the challenges to objectivity in a rapidly changing western media world and discusses the criticism the BBC has met for its sparing use of the word ‘terrorist’ to describe the perpetrators of atrocities. He also examines news channels that are fond of using the soap box to promote their political stance. European air times (including the live Webcast) are 0905, 1205, and 2005. African shortwave air times will likely include 0905, 1405, and 2105

Wednesdays, beginning December 12th: Press for Freedom is a four part series in which former Daily Mirror editor and leading media commentator Roy Greenslade explores how far reporting ‘the truth’ can be endangered by governments, corporations and the new wave of internet publishing. He looks at the dangers facing journalists in today’s world; their freedom to report and how it can be protected. The program focuses on Moscow, Zimbabwe, Kuala Lumpur, and the explosion of small independent citizen/reporter radio stations.

On January 2nd, Greenslade asks how free the press in Europe and America can claim to be. He asks Robert Thomson, editor of The Times, the flagship of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, how the tensions of ownership, advertising and the drive for circulation shape our media. And he ponders whether the upsurge in alternative media suggests that people no longer accept traditional media as free and independent. European air times (including the live Webcast) include 0905, 1205, and 2005; African shortwave air times include 0905, 1405 and 2105.

Saturday, December 15th: How Free the BBC? takes takes a candid look at the relationship between BBC World Service and its funders, the UK Government. Respected UK media commentator Ray Snoddy asks whether a broadcasting organization funded directly by £246 million a year grant-in-aid from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office can remain editorially independent. The program features an extensive interview with Nigel Chapman, Director of BBC World Service, responding to the questions raised by Snoddy’s analysis. European air times (including the live Webcast) include Saturday, December 15th, at 0530 & 0830; African airtimes are likely the same.

Wednesday, December 19th: The Big Link Up celebrates the day of the BBC’s 75th birthday with all-day live remote broadcasts linking audiences around the world in a global debate on freedom of the media. The debate will echo the themes of programming in the BBC's World Service's Free to Speak season. Remote broadcast sites are planned to include East Asia from Mongolia to Australia; the Middle East, Europe and Africa, and The Americas from North through Central America to the South. Regional link-ups featuring panels of experts and audiences will interact with internet cafes; local radio stations; newsrooms and other meeting places around the globe.

Information on the 75th anniversary celebrations can be found here.

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