BBC Caribbean service begins farewell to listeners

After more than 72 years of broadcasting to the people of the region the BBC World Service is axing its Caribbean Service this week as part of the organisation’s enforced cuts, the Cayman News Service reports.

The service will come off air on Friday 25 March is one of the oldest English Language services that the BBC has provided. It started broadcasting in 1939 featuring its first programme Calling the West Indies. Liliane Landor, Controller , Languages at BBC World Service described BBC Caribbean as “The Caribbean Service, one of the oldest and most distinguished services that the BBC has provided in English.” The Caribbean Service Transmissions form part of some 50 stations across the region including Radio Cayman.

BBC Caribbean Magazine has reported on the region’s music and literature, BBC Sports Caribbean provided by World Service has provided the Caribbean Programme Stream and BBC Caribbean Reports has featured morning and evening drivetime editions.

On the eve of the service’s radio silence the team will be hosting a special one-hour call-in programme looking at the future of pan-Caribbean news and current affairs. “During this programme, we hope to both reflect the legacy of BBC Caribbean but, more importantly, we will be looking at what the Caribbean can now do for itself in terms of cross-regional media coverage and output. In addition to this, we are planning to leave a legacy website celebrating the best of BBC Caribbean output over the years,” said Debbie Ransome from the BBC Caribbean service team.

Caribbean service is not the only one to be axed across the world a number of specialist language services are also being cut. Along with the loss of 600 jobs 25 March will also mark the end of an era after almost 90 years of broadcasting in some cases, from its headquarters in Bush House. The service has been forced to cut as a result of the UK coalition government’s cut in its funding to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The World Service has built an unparallel reputation in news broadcasting and the famous words “this is London” opening news is a by-word for accuracy. Although BBC executives have slowly reduced the World Service’s shortwave transmissions in all languages recently stating that shortwave is “a dying concept” in the world of the internet, given the recent unrest in the Arab world the difficulty for dictators to jam shortwave demonstrates its continued value.

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