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1) “BBC Arabic radio goes off air after 85 years; The Arabic language radio is among 10 different languages that are ending due to inflation and licensing fees, BBC says,” Al Jazeera, January 27, 2023.
2) “Ukraine War, February 26, 2022: The current fighting; Playing “the China card”–again; Voice of America Russian-language short-wave broadcasts to Russia,” The Trenchant Observer, February 26, 2022.
BBC Arabic Service Radio has gone off the air since Friday after 85 years of broadcasting as part of a plan to cut costs and focus on digital programming.
The corporation said it is cutting hundreds of jobs in its World Service and has been forced to make the cuts because of the United Kingdom government’s imposition of a freeze on the license fee money it receives.
At least 382 jobs worldwide will be cut as the corporation focuses on digital content production amid a $35m funding gap.
The BBC announced in September that the Arabic language radio service was among 10 different foreign language services that would cease radio broadcasts, including the Chinese, Hindi and Persian services.
It is hard to overstate the stupidity represented by the decision to stop radio broadcasts in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, and Persian, concentrating on digital content instead. The shortfall in funding is $35 million, a drop in the bucket compared to the outlays involved supporting Ukraine with military aid to defend itself against Russian military aggression.
It appears that the number of people in government decision making roles who are capable of thinking and connecting the dots has greatly diminished.
More shocking is the revelation that the British Foreign Office either is not involved in decisions regarding the BBC, or is itself staffed by idiots with government oversight authority.
The government whiz’s responsible for this decision don’t seem to be aware that autocratic governments like those in Arabic countries, China, Iran, and Russia can and do block internet access to BBC programs.
They probably don’t understand how it is easy to listen to a short-wave broadcast in secret, whereas putting up an antenna for internet reception exposes listeners to identification and repression by the state.
They probably don’t understand that dictatorships increasingly have tools to identify individuals using VPN networks on the internet, exposiing listeners to identification and repression by the state.
They probably don’t understand how important international broadcasts such as those of the BBC Arabic service are to demonstrators and others fighting for freedoms in Iran, Egypt, Syria, China, and even India, where freedom of information is curtailed.
With idiots like this making decisions with widespread and significant repercussions, one has to wonder how the nations of the Free World will ever prevail in the perennial struggle between free countries and thos with authoritarian regimes. International radio broadcasting has been a critical weapons in the contest. The countries of the Free World countries have been ending these broadcasts and engaging in what is essentially unilateral radio broadcasting disarmament.
This stupidity is not limited to Britain. The United States stopped its shortwave broadcasts of the Voice of America in 2008. Decision makers apparently believed the Cold War was over.They have not updated their files.
An inexpensive and relatively effective way if broadcasting accurate news and the truth to citizens in authoritarian countries exists, and has a long record of success. The fact that younger government officials may have never seen a short-wave radio or heard a short-wave broadcast should not prevent free countries from using this low-tech but highly effective means of breaking through the Russian electronic Iron Curtain, thev Chinese firewall or any of the other barriers dictatorship erect to prevent the truth and accurate news from reaching the ears of people in their countris.
The Trenchant Observer
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