Monday, 11 April 2011

Mourning 'London Time'

American news magazine Newsweek may be struggling with poor circulation and ad revenues but it is still home to some pretty fine writing. This week's magazine is no exception.

The article that really caught my eye is a wake for the BBC's foreign language service which has been a victim of the coalition's cuts. It is a brilliantly written piece and I recommend you take a look.

In my professional life I have an almost daily battle with elements of the BBC who seem more interested in representing the views of the dinner parties of Notting Hill and Islington rather than those of the majority of the British people. I do, however recognise that in many areas the quality of the BBC's output is simply second to none. 

Furthermore, at a time when Britain's power abroad is continuing to diminish, while the battle for worldwide democracy is far from won, I agree that it is a terrible shame the foreign language service is no more. If we increasingly cannot afford to flex our military muscles without the support of either the US or NATO allies, then broadcasting our beliefs must be a form of soft power we cannot do without. 

The problem: how do we fund this? Clearly none of the BBC, DCMS or the Foreign Office want this burden, and no licence fee payer is likely to want to fund a service that benefits somone in Iran or Libya, but we all benefit. Unfortunately the benefit is not tangible and cannot be measured by listener numbers alone. So, sadly, another way for Britain to influence the world has passed. For this we should all be sorry.   

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