Former BBCWS exec compares BBC Persian and VOA Persian.

Posted: 21 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
Interview with Rob Beynon, who was acting head of BBC Persian during the June 2009 post-election protests in Iran: "Q: How should television channels capitalize on [user-generated] content? Beynon: You make it second nature to people to say, 'I’ve walked around the corner and something’s happening; I’ll use my mobile phone and I’ll send it to my favorite broadcaster.' We always used to say that Americans must stand around the corner waiting to be interviewed in a vox pop, because they were so articulate when a crew came up and asked them a question. Now, in many places, people are so savvy that they’re shooting the thing on an iPhone or mobile phone and then uploading it and sending it off straight away. It’s all done without hesitation. For the broadcaster, for the news channel, the emphasis has to be, 'What’s the second way? How do I provide the in-depth quality coverage? How do I provide the analysis? How do I do the comparative coverage?' You’ll still need high-quality coverage and you’ll still need to be able to put it into context. Otherwise it’s YouTube; YouTube is fantastic but YouTube isn’t going to tell you anything deep about a news story. ... Q: How does BBC Persian measure up to the competition? Beynon: There are only two international channels that broadcast in Farsi into Iran that do any sort of news coverage. One is BBC Persian, and the other is Voice of America. Voice of America does a perfectly good job, but it is directly funded by the State Department in the US, while the BBC has an arm’s-length relationship with the UK’s Foreign Office. So, effectively, the Foreign Office outsources all the content and journalism to the BBC." Austyn Allison, Kippreport, 19 February 2010. VOA has not been "directly funded by the State Department" since 1953. The International Broadcasting Act of 1994, and the resulting creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, came about to give VOA and the other elements of US international broadcasting that same "arms length relationship."
     "Abolhassan Banisadr, first president of Iran after the Islamic Revolution, told the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) that 'lack of freedom in this regime [is the main problem]... they should respect freedom and leave brutality, because democracy and brutality do not go together....' Banisadr made those comments Thursday, during a two-hour special program that delivered a historical perspective of Iran’s Islamic Revolution on its 31st anniversary." VOA press release, 12 February 2010.