Wednesday, February 4, 2015

From soft to off

The World Service is having another go at switching off its medium wave transmitter in Cyprus. It tried in March 2013 - by June 2013, it re-introduced 10 hours a day, at breakfast, drivetime and early evening, after "a huge response" to the closure from listeners in Israel.

The station is just behind Lady's Mile Beach on the eastern side of the Akrotiri peninsula - they were "acquired" from Arab broadcasters in 1957, just after Suez. The transmitters were boosted during the Gulf War of 1990. It worked well: in August 1991 a reception report came in from one Mikhail Gorbachev, detained in the Crimea as part of the abortive coup in the USSR: "We were able to catch some broadcasts and find out what was happening. We got BBC best of all ...".

Perhaps the BBC, soi-disant agent of soft power, thinks the Middle East is a much calmer place now. Nothing much to keep English-speakers engaged in Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Israel. We'll see, when the power goes off in April.

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