The BBC broadcasts its shows to an increasingly large network of global viewers- however the corporation’s latest inroad, a bold move into North Korea, has been curtailed by government budget cuts.
According to Peter Horrocks, broadcasting BBC shows to the masses in the socialist state is still on his wish list, but due to a £2.2 million annual budget slash announced by William Hague earlier this month, plans will have to be shelved for the next year at least.
Horrock stated, “We’re still looking at the feasibility of it. We’ve always said if we can find a practicable and cost-effective means of doing it, it would be worth doing…This year it will be hard to [progress plans] because of the Foreign Office cut we had 10 days ago but it’s definitely on the wish list for the future.”
Financial difficulties aside, a more pressing concern may be the fact that the bulk of the North Korean population could face draconian punishment if caught listening to or watching foreign media broadcasts.
a more pressing concern may be the fact that the bulk of the North Korean population could face draconian punishment if caught listening to or watching foreign media broadcasts
Commenting on the issue, Horrocks said; “We’ve got real issues to overcome, for example radio sets are sold pre-tuned … it’s like only being able to listen to one service. But then we’re told that [North Koreans] are prepared to take risks.”
The plans have the backing of the current US administration and potential strategy for implementation have been discussed with Washington. It is believed that the BBC’s reputation for impartiality may pave the way to gaining the reactionary state’s trust.
Horrock’s comments came following a BBC announcement which reveals its global news audience has now passed 256 million people a week. He revealed that the likelihood of launching World Service programming for North Korea was, “as great as ever” under the leadership of Tony Hall, the director general, and James Harding, the director of news and current affairs and former Times editor.