BBC Chinese Service Makes Final Broadcast in Mandarin

Due to funding cuts, BBC has decided to stop airing radio broadcasts in Mandarin Chinese, although its website will continue with Mandarin service. From BBC News:

BBC World Service Mandarin programming began back in 1941, pre-dating by eight years the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China.

To a country starved of information, BBC Chinese carried news from inside and outside China – most notably of the Vietnam War and Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

In June 1989, with the world’s attention on the democracy protests in China, more and more Chinese tuned in.

The English-language version of one of China’s largest papers, the Global Times, called it the “end of an era”. The Western broadcasters contend they have simply moved with the times.

BBC’s move echoes that of American counterpart Voice of America, which has said it plans to end its broadcasts to China on Oct. 1, 2011.From the Washington Times:

The plan was announced at a recent meeting of China branch employees by VOA Director Dan Austin, who said he supports the administration plan, despite opposition within the unit.

If Congress approves the plan, all shortwave VOA radio and television broadcasts in Chinese, under way since 1942, will end on Oct. 1.

The U.S. government will continue to operate Radio Free Asia, a less official and smaller news operation that will continue broadcasts into China and other closed states in Asia. It also is facing budget cuts that officials say will limit its effectiveness.

However, Voice of America has a much wider audience and larger reach that will be sharply curtailed by the shift to the Internet because many Chinese in rural areas or regions facing central government punishment do not have access to the Internet or cell phones.

Many have criticized the potential cancellation of Voice of America, saying it would greatly reduce mainland Chinese listener’s access to uncensored information , especially those of Chinese activists. From GovoritAmerika:

Their audience are not young, rich Chinese who go on shopping tripts to the U.S. and can access the Internet outside of China or buy a subscription to Newsweek. Their audience are the Chinese whose basic rights are being violated, those under house arrest, 750 million Chinese without Internet access. Yet, these BBG and VOA executives think they know better and want to fire 40 plus experienced VOA Chinese Branch journalists who specialize in human rights reporting and replace them with contractors who supposedly know how to produce slick content for the Internet.

To learn more about how to help save Voice of America in China, visit their Facebook Group.

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