Supplementary memorandum from the BBC
1. BBC WORLD
Following the events of September 11th, the
World Service received anecdotal evidence that people in Afghanistan,
in areas like Kandahar and Kabul, listened to the BBC secretly
in order to avoid any punishment or reaction by the Taleban. Limited
audience survey work before the crisis indicated that some 72
per cent of Pashto language speakers and some 62 per cent of Persian
speakers in Afghanistan listened regularly to the BBC World Service.
BBC staff from the Pashto section and their
families were not targeted directly by the Taleban. There were
some pamphlets distributed in the South and South Eastern parts
of Afghanistan with a general threat to the locals that anyone
co-operating with Westerners would face the consequences, but
there was no specific threat to the BBC.
During the crisis, the Taleban could not jam
the World Service, had they wanted to, as they did not have the
technology to do this.
One of the BBC's translators who worked for
a BBC correspondent resigned early in 2001. Although we have no
proof, we believe that the translator was persecuted by the Taleban
as a result of his work for the BBC. He told us that he no longer
wished to work for the BBC. The World Service arranged for him
and his immediate family to leave Afghanistan, and he is now living
in another continent.
Kate Clark herself was thrown out of the country
in March 2001 because of BBC Pashto reporting of the damage to
the Buddha statues. She returned when the Taleban left the country,
and is still there now.
There is evidence that the Taleban, including
their leaders, were very keen listeners to the World Service themselves,
despite the fact that they disapproved of the service. Mullah
Omar, the leader of the Taleban, gave his only broadcast interview
to the World Service after hearing an interview with Tony Blair
during the height of the crisis, proving that he was a regular
2. JAMMING OF
BBC Mandarin programmes broadcast on short wave
to China have suffered from strong co-channel interference since
1989. This co-channel interference comes from other radio stations
that broadcast from within China. The effect is to make BBC programmes
either completely unlistenable or very difficult to listen to.
Because of the timing of this interference, which start and stop
at times that coincide with the timing of BBC programmes, the
view of BBC engineers is that this is deliberate and is meant
to jam BBC short wave broadcasts.
Such interference has never been total: of the
five frequencies used by BBC Mandarin programmes, all are affected
some of the time, but never all of them all of the time. The result
is that normally at least one frequency gets through very clearly
and one or two are listenable if you concentrate.
English radio programmes have never been jammed.
There can sometimes be problems in audibility caused by geographical
features (eg high mountains) or skyscrapers, but so far we have
not noted deliberate interference.
The whole of the BBC Online site is blocked
in China. This includes the English site as well as Chinese and
all other language sites. The blocking is very effective although
it is possible to side step it by using proxy sites to gain access
to the BBC. However, some influential organisations in China,
for example research institutes, universities, some media groups
and some senior officials, have access to servers that are not
affected by this blocking. This means that they can access all
BBC sites, including the BBC Chinese site.
At the same time, the BBC has formed some very
productive partnerships within China using educational material.
In particular, BBC World Service Education has worked with Radio
Beijing to produce English teaching radio programmes. Using a
Radio Beijing announcer, these programmes have been designed in
close collaboration with Radio Beijing and will be broadcast by
them as well as by the BBC Chinese Service. The BBC and the British
Council have also worked together with a Chinese partner, the
Chinese Central Radio and TV University (which specialises in
distance learning) to establish a joint web site aimed at learners
of English. This site is available to all online users in China.
Co-operation with radio stations in China has
also been possible. The BBC Chinese Service has just concluded
a multi-media project on smoking with a major radio station in
China. This involved a radio series made by a BBC Chinese journalist,
the co-hosting of an "Any Questions" type debate in
China which could be heard on the radio and was also web cast
straight onto the Chinese radio station's internet site as well
as onto the BBC Chinese site. The project also included an interview
with the Chinese Minister of Health, conducted by the BBC Chinese