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Bbc Chairman Says Cancellation of Hebrew Broadcast Based on Political Considerations

The chairman of the British Broadcasting Corp. said yesterday that cancellation of the BBC’s daily short-wave Hebrew broadcast by the Foreign Office was “based on a general political assessment of the factors and not solely on financial grounds.” Lord Hill, of Luton, in a letter to Hayim Pinner, executive director of the B’nai B’rith, said “we were aware that the Israelis might place a political interpretation on the abolition of the (Hebrew) service. For that reason we were sorry that we were unable to convince the Foreign Office of the value of the service.”

The half-hour Hebrew broadcast will be suspended on Oct. 27. The Foreign Office’s stated reason was that its audience in Israel was not large enough compared to the audience of BBC’s English-language World Service which is also heard there and in other countries. The Foreign Office said the funds spent on the Hebrew broadcast would be diverted to “the strengthening of other cultural links between Britain and Israel.” In that connection, Lord Hill wrote, “I do not know what is precisely in their minds.” He acknowledged that fewer Israelis listened to the Hebrew broadcast than the World Service broadcast but pointed out that the former is on the air less than an hour a day and can be received only via shortwave. The World Service is broadcast 24 hours a day and can be picked up on medium as well as short-wave lengths.

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