BBC World Service

After getting online my relationship with this station more or less ended. I listened to the archived World Book Club interviews with those authors I have read. Out of habit I went on for some time with listening to some of their news programmes; but after discovering I could listen to Radio Scotland I switched to that.

Nevertheless, during my pre-Net years it was the BBC WS that was my main source of information about contemporary Britain. Nay, main connection with it. It was the first Western station I ever heard, still heavily jammed in ’88, but not as heavily as to make understanding the Queen’s Christmas speech impossible. Several years later I moved to this city, which was one of those with clear reception of their Czech Section. I was always trying not to miss their half-hour weekend programme Týden v Británii [The Week in Britain]. They broadcast in Czech some five or six hours a day; for the rest they switched over to what they called ‘our London studio’. It was through this London studio that I first heard (listening on my walkman on the morning commuter bus, I believe one day in ’96) about the discovery of the ‘homosexuality gene’. And so on. Come to think of it, I heard more gay-related than Scotland-related news from from BBC WS – and more about either than from all Czech mainstream media combined.

That they told more about England goes without saying. I don’t remember having heard the name Salmond once, but it was the BBC WS where I first encountered names like Brown or Cameron. On the other hand, it was somewhat frustrating to be getting even more information about, say, the Middle East, than about the UK.

It was a disappointment when in 2005 the Czech section was, together with nine others, discontinued. On 17th December there was the last Week in Britain; on 23rd the last full-length programme; and sometime in February of March next year even the five-times-a-day six-minute news stopped. Luckily at least the broadcasting in English went on, even though six hours of the day, 8-11 and 13-16, went to a (formerly purely Internet) Czech station.

Later still, as I was saying, I went online and changed my listener’s habits. But it’s good to know that they’re still there. Why, even this year they came in very useful when updating me during the May post-election morning.



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