Memorandum submitted by BBC World Service
BBC WORLD SERVICE
The World Service takes AIDS as a subject extremely
seriously: many people in our target areas are directly or indirectly
affected by the disease, and it is our role to be a forum for
information and debate on the key issues of our timeAIDS
is clearly one of them.
The World Service deals with the subject in
two main ways:
(i) in its general programming;
(ii) in its educational output.
1. The World Service's general programming on
In English as well as in all our other 42 language
services, AIDS and its effects regularly receive both top-line
news coverage and in-depth analysis. Both the Lusaka and Durban
Conferences were covered in great depth by the World Servicein
both cases a team of producers and technical support staff made
sure that all aspects could be dealt with for all our audiences.
The recent Durban conference was marked also by a specially-commissioned
one-hour programme, Africa: the Orphaned Continent, co-produced
with BBC Radio 4 and presented by Robin Lustig, which examined
not only the ravages of AIDS in Southern Africa but also successful
initiatives to combat it in Senegal and Uganda. On the Internet,
an in-depth report on AIDS and HIV was produced in collaboration
with BBC News Online; and our international multi-media phone-in
Talking Point devoted an edition to the subject with Bernard Schwartlander
of the UN's AIDS programme, sparking a debate by telephone and
e-mail from all over the world.
In our news and current affairs output, as much
as in our specialist science and medical programmes, the effects
of HIV and AIDS remain at the top of the agenda. A series of first-hand
reports commissioned by the World Service from one of our Southern
Africa correspondents, Greg Barrow, investigating the spread and
the impact of AIDS in townships and small communities, was joint
winner of the One World Media Award 2000 in the Radio News category.
These and many other examples of regular coverage and analysis
demonstrate the World Service's commitment to telling the story
of AIDS over the long term and in all its aspects, not just in
occasional snapshots or sensational headlines.
The World Service runs daily feature programmes
specifically for African audiences, offering a range of formatsfrom
simple "postbag" questions and answers to heated debates
on AIDS and related subjects, eg political attitudes and the cost
The World Service reaches particularly large
audiences on the African continent, both in English and four other
languages. One third of the adult population of Ghana and Kenya
listen regularly, and about one quarter of the population of Nigeria;
in the Great Lakes region audiences are even higher.
2. The World Service's educational output:
(a) educational programming broadcast by the
World Service itself
WS Education is responsible for commissioning
educational programmes across the range of World Service's radio
and online output. HIV/AIDS has been covered in two main ways.
As part of the major Sexwise project
which has been running since 1996. Carried out in partnership
with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and
with funds from a variety of sources (including WS Grant in Aid
and other funders such as the Department for International Development,
the European Union, the Packard Foundation). Sexwise is
designed to disseminate basic information on sexual and reproductive
health. Most of the series have contained substantial information
on HIV/AIDS. As part of the project, carried out in three main
phases, radio series have been produced and broadcast in 22 different
languages; there is also an accompanying booklet and a website.
Currently this project is in Phase 3, which has targeted 11 languages,
broadcasting to over 60 million listeners in Africa, the Arab
world, Latin America, South East Asia and China. The Sexwise
website is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/features/health/sexwise/
Information on HIV/AIDS is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/features/health/sexwise/risks_and_costs.shtml
and at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/features/health/sexualhealth/aids
Within the Learning Zone strand of educational
programmes, the World Service is broadcasting the special
series Understanding AIDS. This looks at how AIDS is being
treated in five cities around the world and aims to develop understanding
and appreciation of the difficulties in combating AIDS. It also
looks at cultural and social barriers/attitudes, legal developments,
health care issues and politics particular to that city/country
and explains medical language associated with the subject. The
series introduces each city and its story while project workers,
medical experts/journalists with experience of the city, city
residents and people living with AIDS provide their own views.
(b) further activities with local partners via
the BBC World Service Trust
Launched in 1999 and funded outside the Grant
in Aid, the BBC World Service Trust offers a range of schemes
for training broadcasters and making programmes in developing
countries. It has developed a unique form of co-production with
local broadcasters in a number of countries. Notably, it ran a
highly successful leprosy project in India and Nepal.
That expertise will now be used to tackle AIDS:
India: at the request of DFID and
the government of India, the Trust has designed an AIDS campaign
which will be one of the largest AIDS campaigns carried out anywhere
in the world. Following approval the project would start early
in the new year, (India has the highest absolute number of HIV
infections in the world).
Cambodia: at the request of UNAIDS,
DFID and the Government of Cambodia, the Trust will be designing
a campaign later this year for a major AIDS initiative. (Cambodia
has the highest prevalence rate of HIV infection in Asia).
Africa: in partnership with UNAIDS
and WHO, we shall be designing a major initiative in five of the
most HIV-prevalent countries.
What other international broadcasters are doing
The World Service's main competitors (Voice
of America, Radio France Internationale and Deutsche Welle) all
report AIDS and AIDS related issues in their current affairs and
science/health programming. The Voice of America sponsored an
AIDS campaign in South Africa after the Durban conference. This
included the training of local journalists.
BBC World Service