Friday, 3 December 2010

London Calling! NOT!!!

The BBC World Service is a venerable institution broadcasting un-biased news reportage around the world into countries where other sources of news are censored by totalitarian regimes. It also provides a lively debating platform bringing together comment from English speakers worldwide, as well as having good arts programs and sport coverage. I found it a useful link back to the homeland, having it gently talking into my ear as I rode the S-Bahn or walked in the forests.

But no more!

On 1st December, BBC World Service Berlin changed to a new transmitter, and now I can't pick it up any more. Even in the centre of Berlin, supposedly where the new transmitter is located, my iPod Nano's automatic station finder can't home in on a strong enough signal. Out here in Brandenburg, all you get is static and the odd tantalising snatch of English.

I complained to the BBC, and had the following reply:

On December 1 2010, BBC World Service changed its frequency in Berlin from 90.2 FM to 94.8 FM.  This move was undertaken as the most cost-effective for the BBC to retain a presence on FM in the city. In the current financial climate BBC World Service is facing significant reductions in its funding, and the cost of continuing to broadcast on 90.2 FM in Berlin has become prohibitive. Moving the transmission to 94.8 FM presented an opportunity for us to remain on air in the city.

The 94.8 FM transmitter is located in Schäferberg and the signal is intended to cover Berlin city centre and much of the suburbs. There is, however, reduced coverage of suburban areas in comparison with the former frequency, 90.2 FM, particularly in western and southern parts of the city. We can only apologise to listeners who are now having trouble tuning in, but hope that they will understand the circumstances under which the decision to change frequencies was made.
With best regards,
Audience Information
BBC World Service

So basically, it is all down to cost. Never mind the prestige-factor of broadcasting quality programmes into the far corners of the world (or, Germany at least), or the thousands of people who have learnt English from listening to it, or even UK holiday-makers wanting to know the English Football League results back home.

It's a great shame, but on the other hand it forces me to listen to local radio stations in German if I want to hear the news whilst out and about.

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