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Nigeria: BBC Africa Launches Governorship Debates Across Nigeria

by Daisy Bauer (2021-07-09)

Ahead of the general elections, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Africa has said it would host governorship debates in 10 states across Nigeria. The debate will be conducted in four languages- Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo and Pidgin. The debate would also enable political candidates vying for different political offices to discuss issues affecting them in their own local language. In a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday, the BBC said the debate would see political candidates questioned on issues around economy, education, health, Infrastructure and creation of jobs in the country. Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, the Head of BBC West Africa, said the debate aims to bring governance closer to the people.

SHIAWASSEE COUNTY — A producer from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s New York office is making preliminary arrangements to bring a film crew to Shiawassee County in a few weeks. The purpose of the visit: Shiawassee County is a bellwether community when it comes to presidential elections, picking the winner in 13 out of the 14 past elections, including in 2016 when voters chose Donald Trump. Two years into the Trump presidency, what do business leaders and others think about him now? That’s one of the questions the BBC is seeking to answer. "Obviously, it’s very exciting that somebody from an international news organization wants to come to little Shiawassee County," said Justin Horvath, president/CEO of Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership.

A BBC producer recently reached out to Horvath by email, saying a BBC crew is coming to Detroit later this month to cover the North American International Auto Show, and hoped to take a drive north to Shiawassee County afterward. While details of the visit are still being determined, Horvath has agreed to help. "We’re going to be working with them to set up business meetings," he said. The BBC’s interest in Shiawassee County could be based on a 2016 Michigan Information and Research Service (MIRS) analysis that identified Shiawassee and Van Buren as Michigan’s top county bellwethers for presidential elections. Only in 1976 did both counties fail to choose the national winner, voting for Republican candidate Gerald R. Ford over Democrat Jimmy Carter. Because Michigan voters aren’t required to register their party affiliation, there’s no way to know for sure how many Democrats versus Republicans live in Shiawassee County. However, county leaders have said they believe the political makeup here is roughly split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. "(Shiawassee hasn’t) changed much even though the Democratic vote moved around," Mark Grebner of Practical Political Consultants said in the MIRS report. "(The county hasn’t) become noticeably more Republican or Democratic.

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Click, and off it goes into the electronic void. For the third time this year I have registered an official complaint with the British Broadcasting Corporation. Many weeks of evasion and delay lie ahead, and they will almost certainly end in defeat, though I am right and they are wrong. This time it was about factual inaccuracy, or truth if you want to be grand about it—as I do, a bit. My last complaint (I won this bout) was about showing unverified propaganda footage from Syria without attributing it to its source. Normally, nowadays, my complaints are about shameless bias, especially in favor of drug legalization, a curious preoccupation of the BBC.

I know I am almost certainly wasting my time, but I cannot stop. Only twice in several years of entirely justified, well researched complaining have I ever scored anything remotely resembling justice. This may help to illustrate the relationship many thinking British men and women have with their national broadcaster. We are perpetually angry with it, because it is not what we thought it was or what we wish it would be, or what it officially claims that it is. This is incomprehensible to most Americans, who are as disturbed by the idea of a national broadcaster, financed by a sort of tax, as they are about our supposedly established state Church of England and our National Health Service.

How can we tolerate these grotesque interferences in our liberties, and still call ourselves a free country? To which I can only reply that the human mind is not wholly rational, and you will just have to believe that we do this, whether it makes sense to you or not. To me the BBC is still utterly linked with good things of home and hearth. Till I die I will not be able to hear anyone say that the time is "a quarter to two" without being plunged into a Proustian reverie. For on many impossibly secure and happy weekday childhood afternoons this was the beginning of the following sequence: a mellow chime, an upper-middle-class female voice asking, "Are you sitting comfortably?

" followed by a short pause and the words, "Then I’ll begin." After which she read a story. It was a program called Listen with Mother. And so I did. My memory supplies the pictures to go with this, a sunny sitting-room with chintz-covered chairs, in which I am sitting, thumb quite possibly in mouth, at my mother’s feet. Outside are many miles of suburban or rural peace spreading away in all directions. Or then, a little later in my childhood, it is a stormy night in a draughty Victorian house on the edge of the wilds of Dartmoor. I am rapt by the fireside. A character called "Uncle Mac" is reading John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, this time in a lamplit room, so it must have been the evening.

To this day I look back on this moment with wonder. Nothing in the world today matches this mixture of high-mindedness, unblushing public Christianity, and romance. The book has remained in my head ever since, so that I am astonished that so few others are familiar with its disturbing story. And then it changes its tone. Every week seems to feature an "advanced" drama about divorce, homosexuality, abortion, or all three at once. Satire, so-called, spreads its spiky wings. Even my mother’s favorite radio serial, Mrs. Dale’s Diary, the musings of a doctor’s wife, fills up with "progressive" themes. The words "call-girl" and "Profumo" become familiar, as a pinstriped England writhes in embarrassment (and secret laughter) over the sexual athletics of a Conservative politician.

And yet the voice that pronounces these new things is still more or less the same—calm, educated, unashamedly middle-class, and predominantly English, like Britain itself (though other accents are from time to time permitted, every year a little more). Other parts of the BBC begin to broadcast the revolutionary new music of guitar and drum, which the Corporation initially resisted but was forced to broadcast by the success of offshore pirate stations that quickly established large young audiences. But a single reasonably reliable broadcast voice remains in what is now called BBC Radio 4 (formerly, rather comfortingly, called the Home Service).

This station is the inheritor of those phlegmatic, terribly moving wartime news bulletins which are occasionally brought out of the archives. My favorite of these is the announcement of a rare British military victory over the Germans at El Alamein in November 1942: "Here is the news—and cracking good news it is too! They wouldn’t say that now. In fact I remember, as it became clear that British arms had secured the victory in the strange war over the Falkland Islands in 1982, being disappointed by the absence of any note of triumph. There it is again, the gap between the expectation and the fact. You can get hamburgers, robocops, and Budweiser at home.

And yet, in small corners of the BBC, as in small corners of London, some traces of what was there before can, with sweet persistence, still be seen. Every so often, there is a brief flash of what the BBC used to be, in a voice, in an especially scrupulous and understated piece of journalism, or in a serious season of Shakespeare. And so we do not quite give up on it. We may shout at our radio sets. We may make complaints. We may angrily turn it off, but we once glimpsed that astonishing thing, a serious and reasonably fair national broadcaster, and so we cannot quite give up hope that it might one day be restored. I suspect that this cherished but unrealistic belief will not endure much longer.

The British Broadcasting Corporation is making a TV series about railways and their impact on North America. They spent a day filming in Fort Lawrence, Nova Scotia in July and will be back again this summer. The BBC crew was documenting the Chignecto Marine Ship Railway in Cumberland County for the show Great American Railway Journeys. Construction began in 1888, and the plan was for ships to dock at the Northumberland Straight in Tidnish, then be pulled by rail to the Bay of Fundy in Fort Lawrence. Bill Casey is the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, and he says this route would have saved ships about 1,000 km in travel distance. The railway was never completed due to financial problems.

The BBC today apologised for mistakenly referring to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a live news broadcast of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) last night. According to reports, the news presenter on duty was given incorrect information which she went out to read out on air. This is not the first time the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) finds itself in this embarrassing position. In December last year, the public broadcaster aired clips from the 1976 box-office hit ‘Kabhi Kabhie’ with actors Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor in song sequences when referencing the death of actor Shashi Kapoor. "BBC ‘News at Ten’ is very sorry wrong images were used to mark the death of Shashi Kapoor.

It is easy to become frustrated with the BBC. On the right, the complaint has always been that the corporation is an overmighty behemoth staffed by overpaid lefties. In more progressive circles, there has recently been anger over the time devoted to climate change deniers (such as Nigel Lawson) and pro-Brexit positions. A serious disparity between the salaries earned by male and female employees has been a justified focus of criticism. It is right to hold this publicly funded organisation to account; it is right to pace the ramparts of its impartiality and independence.