FW: BBC gets more money to step up anti-Zim crusade

Donal donaloc at peterquinn.com
Mon Nov 11 05:19:31 MST 2002


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The Herald (Harare), 11/9/02

BBC gets more money to step up anti-Zim crusade

Herald Reporter

THE British government has allocated more money to the BBC to continue its
demonisation of Zimbabwe.

British Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Mr Jack Straw said
his government recently increased funding for the BBC’s World Service by £48
million ($4 billion) over the period from 2003 to 2006 on top of an annual
baseline of £211m ($17bn).

He was responding to a report of the British parliamentary foreign affairs
committee, which recommended London to increase funding for the BBC to
continue its propaganda against Harare.

The committee said the British government should ensure that the BBC World
Service continues to have enough funds to maintain the quality and extent of
its coverage in Zimbabwe and extend it further.

"The annual grant-in-aid to BBCWS’s currently stands at £200m ($16bn).
Operational decisions on resource allocation, given BBCWS’s independence of
government on editorial and programming matters, are for BBCWS on the basis
of its spending bid and working within the framework of overall objectives
agreed with the FCO.

"The FCO and BBCWS maintain constant contact over each other’s respective
objectives and priorities," said Mr Straw.

He admitted that the British media was often inaccurate in covering Zimbabwe
as it was biased in favour of white commercial farmers.

"The Government has gone to great lengths to explain its policy on Zimbabwe
to the British media and Parliament. It will continue to do so. Regrettably,
media reporting has often been inaccurate or focused unduly on the situation
facing Zimbabwe’s commercial farmers."

Contacted for comment yesterday, a BBC spokesperson could only say: "The BBC
strives to be impartial and balanced in all its reporting."

The Government has banned the BBC from entering the country to cover events
here, saying it was biased and broadcasts falsehoods about Zimbabwe.

The British parliamentary committee also recommended London to pursue all
appropriate means of supporting the work of independent journalists in
Zimbabwe. Britain already funds the opposition Daily News.

In August the United States revealed that it was working with certain local
journalists and some Sadc countries to topple President Mugabe and the
Government.

Mr Straw also said British diplomatic missions were actively countering
Zimbabwean propaganda about UK policy, confirming the meddling by the
British High Commission in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

He ruled out the possibility of the United Nations imposing sanctions on
Zimbabwe.

"UN sanctions against Zimbabwe are not currently a realistic option," said
Mr Straw.

He was responding to the committee’s recommendation that London should seek
support in the United Nations, G8 and elsewhere to persuade countries
outside of the European Union to impose similar sanctions imposed by the EU.

Mr Straw admitted that the UK as a former colonial power had an obligation
on the land issue in Zimbabwe. "The United Kingdom is under a particular
obligation to assist, not primarily because white farmers with British
forebears are under threat — although that is a matter of great and proper
concern — but because as a former colonial power it still has a residual
responsibility."


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