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Vol 37 No 15

Published 19th July 1996

Radio controlled

A campaign against plans to bring the BBC's much praised World Service under the centralised control of its domestic programme managers has won support from hundreds of British political and cultural figures, as well as the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Commonwealth Secretary General Sir Sridath Ramphal, former Ambassador to the United Nations David Hannay, violinist Y ehudi Menhuin and Nigerian writers Chinua Achebe, Ben Okri and Wole Soyinka. Yet this eminent roll call may not be enough. The BBC management, under Chairman Sir Christopher Bland and Director General John Birt (who have spent most of their careers making programmes for and managing domestic commercial television) are pressing ahead with plans to take away the World Service's editorial independence. They have dismissed criticism, even that of World Service ex-Managing Director John Tusa, as 'insulting' and 'grotesque'. Current World Service Managing Director Sam Younger was told of the plans, which effectively destroy the unique international identity of the World Service, a week before their public announcement.

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