Implications of the BBC World Service Cuts

Written evidence from Kofi A. Annan


To whom it may concern:

The BBC World Service is a subject close to my heart. I noted once before that, for millions of people across the world, it has been a way of cutting through the veil of tyranny to provide uncensored news. In the late 1990’s, I described it as "perhaps Britain’s greatest gift to the world this century."

The BBC, like many government-funded organisations around the world, is making sweeping cuts at a time of international austerity. I fear this could have a devastating impact. In particular, the cutting – at short notice - of short wave broadcasts in Hindi, in Swahili, and to the Great Lakes of Africa will mean that millions of people will no longer have access to balanced, fair, independent news and information. For many communities around the world, BBC short wave broadcasts in their own language are a lifeline, a window to the outside world, an opportunity to learn and develop.

The unparalleled reputation of the World Service rests on three main pillars; accuracy, impartiality and accessibility. To remove any one of these is to undermine the whole structure – and its crucial service to more than 180 million people around the globe.

As a strong supporter of the BBC World Service, particularly in remote regions, I hope you will do everything possible to maintain this service and continue this public good.

Kofi A. Annan

United Nations Secretary-General (1997-2006)

10 February 2011