Please see a slightly edited email in response to some questions from
The following message is from Robert Chandler, a translator of Russian
literature. If you have any questions, please write them to him at the
Please consider signing our petition against the axing of the most
important programmes of the BBC Russian Service and the general World
Service policy of ï¿½moving producers closer to their audiencesï¿½, i.e.
relocating them, against their will, to parts of the world where it will
be impossible for them to preserve their editorial freedom. Please also,
if possible, forward this message to as many people as possible.
For many years, the BBC Russian Service ï¿½Featuresï¿½ department has been
producing programmes which have been more adventurous and free-thinking
than anything available to a Russian listener from his domestic media.
This department is now being closed down. A campaign by distinguished
British academics, writers, journalists and public figures has failed to
persuade the World Service management and the Foreign Office to grant it a
reprieve . Without its most creative programming, the Russian Service is
running the risk of becoming less distinctive, less valued by its audience
and less influential.
The Government has ignored calls by members of the public and MPs from all
parties for an investigation into the BBC World Service. There are serious
concerns about how taxpayersï¿½ money is being spent.
The government has increased its funding of the BBC World Service by 20%
over the past five years. Despite this, the BBC axed much of its quality
feature and cultural programming in favour of cheap news coverage across
the World Service, significantly reduced its funding for Russian
broadcasts and is now offshoring South Asian language services ï¿½closer to
their audiencesï¿½, to countries where intimidation of journalists is
Therefore, we call on the Prime Minister to launch a full and independent
investigation into the BBC World Service.
So far (17 March) we have 560 signatories for our petition. 1000 would
make a real impact. To sign, you must be a UK citizen or resident. We
have another three and a half weeks.
When the French government recently decided to stop their own
Russian-language broadcasting service, 900 people signed a petition
against this. Copies were sent to every deputy in the French parliament,
and the broadcasts were reprieved!
If any of you would like further background, the best place to start is my
recent article on the Open Democracy site, which was published on 10 Feb:
And if anyone should wish to read ALL about our campaign, here are many
more links to articles in the Times, the Daily Telegraph, a debate in
Parliament, and more….
Here is the first link of all:
Here is the second:
Here is the third, which includes an excellent letter from Irina
Shumovitch. This might be the best place to start:
And here is the fouth
There has also been a debate in Parliament about the World Service:
The BBC backed down with regard to their original decision about
advertising for a new Director of the World Service. See
And our related letter:
<http://tinyurl.com/74ehuw> (You need to scroll down!)
A previously unpublished letter of mine has just (5 Jan 2009) been posted
on the website of Open Democracy. It can be found at
together with the letter from Richard Sambrook to which it is a reply.
A letter signed by Oleg Gordievsky is in the Daily Telegraph (Jan 9).
This article of mine was published on 10 Feb:
And on 17 Feb. the Times published an important letter from the FNR (the
Independent Radio Foundation, a Moscow NGO):
This link goes to the excellent speech that Julian Lewis gave during the
Westminster Hall debate in mid-December. This is followed by Chapmanï¿½s
letter to Lewis and Lewisï¿½s reply:
Here is an article (2 March 2009) in the Independent based on an interview
with Nigel Chapman:
It is followed by some acerbic comments.