BBC World Service, which is a U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded Broadcasting Services Organization in 32 languages world wide, is going to close its broadcasting operations in 5 languages i.e. Serbian, Portuguese, Macedonian, Albanian, and English in Balkan republics viz., Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo. The BBC’s new move seems another shock to Balkan Republics, as already the BBC has closed its services in Bulgarian, Slovenian and Croatian languages. It is really sad news to the Balkans region as BBC has provided broadcasting services in and around the region for over 70 years ever since its inception in 1942 during the IIWW. The primary reasons cited by the BBC sources for closure of the services was budget cuts, and to struggle to survive with its rivals in the region.
The British Foreign Secretary Mr.William Hague quoted in Parliament on Wednesday that in Russian language the News audience have declined by 80 per cent and online viewers have increased to 120 percent in last few months’ which may also be understood as one of the reasons for BBC’s withdrawal from the region. It is also planning to shut down its broadcasting programmes in Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian and Azeri in the days to come but would continue their television and online services. As a result of this step around 650 employees will loose their jobs. However, the BBC is planning to concentrate in TV programming in Indian languages like Urdu, Hindi, and in Sub-Saharan Africa in the days to come with additional funding.
Now with the departure of BBC from the region the Al-Jzeera of the Middle Eastern Television Network is getting ready to tap the opportunity. But the already existing Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and Deutsche are going to provide news coverage in Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, the Al-Jzeera is planning to provide major broadcast services in a big way in the local/regional languages.