Radio silence

The BBC World Service quit beaming shortwave radio to the States a decade ago, although you can still pick it up on satellite (channel 141 on Sirius, 131 on XM). There was not a whole lot of mourning, at least partially because the US is awash in radio services, though few with a comparable level of prestige.

Now places without so much in the way of choice are being cut loose: in anticipation of the loss of government grants — in 2014, the BBC is required to finance the World Service from UK licence fees — five foreign-language services will be dropped, and shortwave transmissions to India, Russia and China will be discontinued.

Perhaps more alarming, at least at this moment, is the impending demise of the shortwave service in the Middle East:

Short-wave broadcasts of the BBC Arabic service, which has around 400,000 listeners in Egypt, will be shut down as part of plans to save £46m from the World Service’s budget. The changes follow a 16% cut in its funding by the government and are likely to lead to the loss of 30 million listeners worldwide.

There will also be “significant reductions” in the BBC’s Arabic TV services, according to the plans outlined by the BBC’s global news director, Peter Horrocks, last week.

The Beeb argues that their overall audience in Egypt is about 3.4 million, and they’re served adequately by FM radio and/or local partners, and by BBCArabic.com, at least when Cairo isn’t blocking the Internet.





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