Bbc Hebrew Programs Ended, Foreign Office Accused of Political Decision

The British Foreign Office was accused of political motives in ordering the suspension of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s short-wave Hebrew programs which were officially ended yesterday. Erwin Bienenstok, director of the Hebrew service for the past nine years, said, “I don’t consider that we are being closed for the technical reasons given. It is a political decision by the British Government.”

The London Times, in an editorial, said there was a “distinctly disingenuous ring” to the official explanation that the Hebrew programs were ordered suspended for financial reasons and because the BBC’s English language broadcasts have a larger audience in Israel. The Times pointed out that BBC’s annual budget from the Foreign Office for its foreign service broadcasts amounted to $22.8 million and that the Hebrew service cost only $33,600 a year. Some $840,000 are spent on the Arabic language programs which are on the air more than 10 hours daily and “include everything from Koran readings to plays especially produced for the service in Beirut.” The Times said that superior medium wave technical facilities used to transmit broadcasts in other languages to the Middle East were never made available to the Hebrew service, “for some reason presumably not unconnected with Eastern Mediterranean politics.” The Times concluded, “A still small Hebrew voice of sanity will be snuffed out.”

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