The poet Benjamin Zephaniah Says NO to OBEs- especially in the light of the Iraq war. Yes, that’s right- but he also took the air-time on Channel Four News last night to praise the BBC World Service because they had changed their name from the BBC Empire Service. So, apparently the leopard can change its spots. It’s all in a name.
I would never seek to defend a certain old British hegemony, whereby dirty deals were done with local dignitaries to gain soldiery or to nullify opposition. There is an area though where the British do retain a degree of hegemony, as do the French: that is in World News provision. In my last post I criticised the uncritical approach taken to the story of Internet fraud in Nigeria. In my view each story should stand reasonably well on its own legs. We’ve made similar comments about coverage of another legatee of colonialism: Mahathir Mohammed former Prime Minister of Malaysia. Cosying up to strong men seems to be a habit that BBC (Empire) World service and its relations at BBConline have not shaken. They would appear to prefer to tear strips off limited-term western politicians- you know, the ones who will risk their lives for a photo shoot. Honestly Benjamin, are you still a sucker for the real Empire punch? When the BBC extends the olive branch of ‘impartiality’ to these countries, who gets the warm rosy glow? And who gets the scoops?