Implications of the BBC World Service Cuts

Written evidence from Kiyo Akasaka, New York

I grew up listening to the BBC World Service, which used to broadcast on short wave in the Japanese language. I still remember how sad I felt when the broadcasts came to an end, because of budget cuts, despite the fact that there were thousands of listeners. The BBC, and other international broadcasters including VOA, RFI, and All India Radio were some of the first media organizations to look beyond national borders and lay the trail for our interconnected world.

I have listened to the BBC throughout my life, and in my postings in different countries on four continents. The BBC informs my work, and provides me with information and stories from around the world. There are millions of BBC listeners around the world, many in war-torn places and in vulnerable situations – just as Japan was, when I grew up in the aftermath of World War II. They depend on the World Service as a lifeline to the greater world. And today, more than ever, one of the most beautiful things about radio is that it is inexpensive, available, and works - even when electricity lines are down, or when the Internet is blocked.

Every media organisation is adapting its working practices in the digital age; priorities shift and technology moves on. That is an inevitable fact of life. But curtailing the services of any well-loved and respected international media institution is worrying, especially at a time when peoples everywhere need more, not less, accurate, balanced and timely reporting on the events that affect their lives. What a great pity to see the gift of the BBC diminished or lost.

I submit this statement in my personal capacity.

10 February 2011