Sunday, 4 April 2010

Three cheers to the Beeb

This blogger is a complete, total, unabashed , fawning admirer of the British Broadcasting Corporation, affectionately called the Beeb in Her Majesty’s realm. There is simply no media organization in the world that comes anywhere close to the BBC. Period.

Yes, the BBC is the most trusted news organization in the world. Yes, the BBC’s radio and TV programmes are produced with a professionalism that few can even aspire to match. Yes, the BBC is usually amazingly neutral and presents all sides of a picture that to really appreciate this, you only have to watch Fox News or China Television ! Yes the BBC is truly the only global media organization – CNN comes close, but still cannot match the BBC in global reach.

The jewel in the BBC Crown, to my mind, is BBC World Service Radio. Not television, but radio. In the good old days, the crackling short wave transistor radio glued to ear was the only way to listen to it. Now, short wave transmissions, that virtually defined BBC World Service for a 100 years , are being phased out. The Internet is the new medium – you can listen to the World Service (minus the crackles) any time of the day or night, on line.

All too often, media organizations today have become a chronicler of the world’s woes. Tragedies and scandals dominate reporting. Everybody does that, even the BBC. But its only the BBC, that does more. Human interest stories, stories that warm the heart, tales from around the world, that can make you chuckle, that bring a lump to the throat, that makes your eyes swell with tears, that keep ringing in your ears long after you have finished listening.

These days, BBC radio puts out a number of podcasts that you can download and listen to at leisure. They are all uniformly brilliant, but my absolute favourite is From Our Own Correspondent. A recent episode I heard triggered this post. Adam Mynott was covering the boring sounding Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Doha in Qatar. And what a lovely report he presented – click here to go to the podcast and click on Chapter 4 to listen to his piece which is only a 5 minute piece. Here is an extract from the podcast to whet your appetite

“ Countries vote electronically; they press a button to record their votes. To satisfy everybody that the system is working properly and that there are no gremlins in the software, the Chairman tests the system periodically. On Day 9 of the conference, after everybody had been in Doha for some two weeks, he did a simple test. He said to test the system, he was going to ask a simple question and asked delegates to vote yes or no. The question was, Is Doha the capital of Qatar ? To say Yes, press button No 2. The delegates reached forward to vote. After they had finished, there was however a surprising result. Two nations – Croatia and Cameroon had voted no ! And perhaps from force of habit long established from voting at the United Nations and other forums, China abstained. Croatian and Cameroonian delegates did not explain why they had learnt so little about the city where they had been staying for the last 10 days. The Chinese were inscrutable and said nothing. Perhaps they thought it would be giving too much away if they stated unequivocally that Doha was indeed the capital of Qatar".

Wow ! Three cheers to the Beeb, Hip Hip; Hooray . Hip Hip; Hooray. Hip Hip; Hooray !

25 comments:

  1. Sandhya Sriram4/4/10

    first (before GILs)

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  2. for gnana shoonya like self who find it difficult to assimilate and recall the few pages of newspaper which i manage to read (that too compromised now and then), i always wonder what it feels to be on top of the world like you... that too in an info isolated china.

    I only feel happy that i am fortunate to read your posts. it gives an enormous perspective on very different things. for me, the BBC which i know is yourself - i would love to give you a nick name - but would prefer to leave it to GILs.

    Three Cheers to KR, Hip Hip Hooray, Hip Hip Hooray!!

    Ps: Given that i hold the first place today, i take the baton of hosting this contest today for the
    Other commenters on this blog -
    This competition is open to all. you can all suggest a nice nickname for Ramesh. GILs gets a small preference but all other entries will be considered impartially.

    Rules: Nick Name should not exceed 10236 letters
    It should be in English language. any other language should be posted with translation into english
    It should be received within the next blog posting of Ramesh
    Judges decision will be final
    winners will be announced on this space

    ReplyDelete
  3. Durga4/4/10

    Sandhya, what a contest! What about Business Bard???

    Back in India, people who are nosy and indulge in gossip mongering and free distribution of information, whether confidential or not, are referred to as "BBC"!!! Well, I'd any day watch BBC to CNN for world news and that's what I've been doing loyally all these years! As long as news is not sensationalised, like our Indian newsgroups do, people will be willing to watch the channel. All we need are facts - our mental faculties are capable enough to make decisions based on facts. We don't want anyone to impose their opinions on us.

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  4. @ Sandhya - Great thought, my nomination for the nick name would be "Blogging Wizard". Your very interesting comment diverted my attention from the post for a while to figure out the best nickname ;-)

    I do remember my Dad waiting for 10.30 PM (IST) broadcast of BBC news in early 1990s. I guess the versatility of BBC has diluted (to some extent) amongst us since the advent of cable channels. A layman is being allured by sensationalised local news flashing across tens of channels. I do watch CNN sometimes but not regularly :( ...

    Thanks for the eye opener... Sir Wizard!

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  5. Am surprised where you find topics like these and do a awesome post.
    And for your nickname,since you are referring to radio,i guess i can call you thatha,so you are news thatha(news grandpa).May sound mega mokkai,but this what i could name you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @sandhya - OMG - What have you started ?? :):)Much tickled :)

    Btw - all ye people - if there was one term that is the exact opposite of this lady it is gnana shoonya. She's a national topper, brilliant lady, working in one of the top companies in the land, writes in professional journals, and altogether a heroine.

    @Durga - BBC has its own fan following and to my utter surprise, in many parts of rural India too (the Hindi language broadcast). Intrigued by Business Bard - was an e missing in the Bard bit ??

    @Vishal - To anybody brought up in the television age, radio is an anachronism. But there is a charm to the radio that I can never get over. I suspect the reference to the Wizard would more likely to be of the likes of the Wizard of Oz !!

    @ambulisamma - Hee Ho Ho. Thatha indeed . Now I must drastically revise my teenager list - ambulisamma, I think is actually ambuli herself masquerading as her amma. Then the geneology would be right !! Much tickled :):)

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  7. @Sandhya - Gils has gone missing. Perhaps he's recovering from the shock of being asked about his red trousers and green shirt !!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Am not sure of your age and juz guessed out as thatha,may be if you tell your age,i can revise myself.Neenga seriyana tit for tat pola irukke.

    Gils.aavadhu idhukkavadhu asarra aala?che che no no,engaiyavadhu ponnu parka poi iruppar.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous5/4/10

    Journalism is plagued with mediocrity (maybe even below). With so much of news and information around, it sure is difficult to maintain high standards. But then you have a BBC or an Economic Times defying the excuse. Can't agree more on Fox TV (I am sure China would be the same). Thats the reason why people on the roads have such a skewed view about the world around them. I have overheard more knowledgable discussions on current affairs amongst 'Fashion Street' vendors (Beijing Lus of Mumbai/Pune), than bus-commuters to downtown offices here in Connecticut. (I am hoping that I haven't become biased by now).
    ----------------

    On the Trade Convention blooper! The best part about that little piece was, he said it in the same flow as the rest of the report, with an absolutely straight face! :D
    -----------------

    Contest Entry- Thiru K'ung Tzu !! (Of the Business and Blogging world).

    (Thiru- coz I wanted to keep it Indian, K'ung Tzu- is the Chinese name for Confucius. I have a winner here...haah! :) )

    -Deepa.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @ambulisamma - All just for fun - there is a thrill in thrust and counter thrust, isn't it. My age ?? Well, well, thatha qualified surely !

    @Deepa - Excellence in journalism has got sacrificed in the fight for eyeballs and ratings ; here's one field where capitalism seems to be unsuitable. ROFL on the nickname. Your creativity is simply unbelievable. Now why on earth did you choose the most uncreative of professions ??

    ReplyDelete
  11. First the contest entry (not a patch on some of the gems above, but this is the first word that came to my mind) wizard of Words.Apologies for a totally non creative (but true) entry.
    My vote goes to Deepa though- absolutely adorable nick name that was..

    RE the Beeb still being what it set out to be..thank god for small mercies :)..some good things still remain

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  12. Was never into radio in India but now the BBC news segment is among my favorites on NPR during my commute. The BBC news is particularly remarkable for maintaining their high standards over so many years and the breadth of their global news coverage. I wonder if some other western reporters can even point to Africa on a map.

    Re nickname - unfortunately I chose a profession in line with my creativity and therefore will merely vote for my favorite - Deepa's Thiru K'ung Tzu.

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  13. @AJCL - Yes, the BBC is one of those things that's great and good about that country. Unfortunately its citizens don't seem think too much so.

    @J - Especially Africa - no news agency can cover as well as BBC. Its a superb organisation.

    @J & AJCL - Now that my leg has been well and truly pulled, I have to think of a proper nickname for Deepa :):)

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  14. sandhya5/4/10

    Not sure why GILS has failed to exercise his preferential option. However, as promised it is time to announce the winner....

    I want to place on record that all nick names for Ramesh have been quite appropriate --
    Whether it is durga's Business Bard, Vishal's Blogging Wizard or AJCL's wizard of words. More nominations would have been nice, but GILs absence has maybe brought the tone of the contest down.

    However, in line with other recommendations, i declare Deepa's Thiru K'ung Tzu as the winner of the contest.

    All comments on this blog are hereby requested to kindly address Ramesh by his newly coined name henceforth. Readers posting Comments without the new title will be at Deepa's mercy and she will crown appropriate nicknames for each of them.

    PS: I hope Ramesh will take us out for a nice Dinner - Deepa for winning and self for hosting :-)

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  15. Ohh I never knew there was a prize too! Sandhya u r the best! I am ready when r we going? :)

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  16. @sandhya - When we returns, gils will come back with a gem no doubt. Considering that I have been pulling his leg non stop, this is a great chance to get even.

    @sandhya & Deepa - To take two delightful ladies out to dinner will be pleasure indeed. The mid way point between Bangalore and Connecticut is probably London.Get moving ladies ; we dine at the Savoy next week and maybe the Queen might be there too !

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  17. Take A Bow... Thiru K'ung Tzu! No better than this, Deepa! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous8/4/10

    //Rules: Nick Name should not exceed 10236 letters
    It should be in English language. any other language should be posted with translation into english
    It should be received within the next blog posting of Ramesh
    Judges decision will be final
    winners will be announced on this space//

    ROTFL :D :D OMG!!! so many stuff i have missed :( :( :( :( feels like watching a blockbuster on its 100th day :D :D after every one has done and dusted over it :D :D chaancela..semma name..thiru kung tzu..aana ivlo formala!!! thalaivaruku "speciala" ethachum vaikanum..ithu romba deejenta iruku :D :D ipo mandai kaanji poiruken :( so..let me sharpen my mokkais and come :D

    ~gils

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous8/4/10

    //Gils.aavadhu idhukkavadhu asarra aala?che che no no,engaiyavadhu ponnu parka poi iruppar.
    //
    !!!!! avvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv....epdinga epdinga ithelaam!!! unga blogla enna security setup vachirukeengha therla..ungalthu matum openay aaga matenguthu!!! let me figure a way to creep in :D :D

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  20. @Gils - I notice that there was no real reply to the ambulimama comment ! We shall make our own inferences :)
    Gilsu - my security preferences are in then hands of the Chinese government. beware Beware !! :) :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ha Ha Ha, again. You are doing a great job, digging out gems, Lovely sire :-D

    I have to dig out the attic and see if those old transistors/radios with MW and SW1,2,3 bands are still there. :-)

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  22. @RamMmm - Those transistors have gone. Long exchanged for pathiram in the wonderful barter market that exists in India.

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  23. Aaaaah the explanation is right here....Confucius eh.....no wonder u r so tickled abt it;-D

    So I was not bowing around without reason...told u there was feel of eminence to it;-D

    Hail Thiru K'ung Tzu!!!!!

    p.s: psssst, please dont tell Preeti I said all this;-o.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Reflections - Not hugely thrilled by the name, but mighty thrilled by the attentions of ravishing damsels !!

    Pssst Pssst - Shall we give Preeti a naughty nickname ??

    ReplyDelete

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