Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A short moan about BBC World

We recently got our telly connected to some channels - it has only taken 22 months since arriving here. What prompted this flurry of technical activity? The World Cup, of course. Not only did husband arrange for some men to come and fit a cable TV connection, he also went out and spent a considerable sum of money on a brand new Sony Bravia flat screen TV to watch. The old tv went to the children's home and we all felt very lucky to have such a smart bit of kit on which to watch things.

There are some great upsides to this. We can now download BBC TV shows (like the current Dr Who series) and play it through our TV rather than on the lap top. For films, the picture and sound are light years better than they ever were on our 10-year old Phillips silver box.

BUT, and it is a big but, we are back to having BBC world as our main English-language news channel. May I just say that this is one of THE WORST channels ever. It only has about three stories running at a time, so you hear the same stuff over and over and over and OVER again. The weather, a pointless filler in my opinion, ignores vast tracts of the world entirely (China, Russia and all of middle earth where I live). They clearly signed a contract with the Indian Tourist Board for life... if I have to listen to another "Incredible India" tune I will slit my wrists (although thank goodness "Malaysia, Truly Asia" and the others are not shown in Central Asia!).

Frankly, I cynically wonder how they can call themselves a global news network when they can't be bothered, or perhaps just can't afford, to cover huge areas of the world where there are, actually, by the way, stories happening all the time. What about the Thailand unrest? The BBC took a massively-supportive stance against the Red Shirts (anti-govt) and in support of the Yellow shirt (pro-govt) supporters. Now that the troubles have slightly simmered down, there is zero coverage. Where are all the journos now? We met a BBC journalist last year after England played Kazakhstan in their World Cup qualifying match. He looked about 12 years old, and was staggering along the road with a bright yellow suitcase full of sound recording equipment that must have weighed almost his bodyweight. He asked some of our group for a few questions, and was then headed for the airport and on to somewhere else.

There is now an unfolding crisis in Kyrgyzstan, our neighbouring country, and where husband has to look after a branch of his organization. There was a revolution on April 7 already and now there seems to be some terrible stuff going on in Osh - people being shot, houses being burnt down, people being raped and other ghastly things. I know that the BBC has to be careful not to be too political, but there is a lot more going on there than is being reported at the moment. Saying that it is ethnic tension rather than quite scary global geopolitical manouverings is clearly not getting to the nub of the problem. Should they not be asking which super powers have interests in this region? What about the US air base in Manas from where they keep their afghan operations going? And do the Russians enjoy the US supporting a war from a spot in their own back yard? I don't think so. But then I am just a  housewife and not an academic expert in matters of international relations, so you should probably not take these comments too seriously.

Agh! I am left to reading news on the internet. Fortunately this seems to be being done by people who have graduated these days, and not just the gap year students doing work experience on the internet news pages like they used to.

On balance, it is much better having TV than not. And BBC World is still better than most of our available channels here. For the football World Cup, there are two channels which are authorized to show games. But because of the government's positive discrimination for all things Kazakh, the channels are forced to do half the commentary in Russian and half in Kazakh. Considering  that hardly anyone here speaks Kazakh to fluency, this seems a most strange thing to insist upon because it must really annoy even some very senior people in the country. And for someone like me, who can only understand a word every now and again in Russian, it makes for a zero-understanding situation.

Anyway, small frustrations really. Get a grip, woman!

1 comment:

  1. I have to challenge that BBC World is the worst channel, CNN makes me want to throw things at it every time it comes on. Krgyzstan sounds pretty worrying.

    I find it fascinating when you know a country well that is then being reported on - and then you discover how little the journalists know. Scary really!