Today February 2nd at 1145UTC I was invited as a guest on the BBC World Service program Over To You to discuss the cuts to the BBC WS Chinese Section. Raymond Li the Head of the Chinese Service of the BBC WS will also take part. The cuts pushed onto the BBCWS by the Foreign Office mean a cut of services including shortwave to China. The rational of the Foreign Office is the Chinese jam the radio signal so no one can listen. But in a very logical move they decided to focus on the internet as a way to reach the audience. It seems they have not heard of the Great Firewall. Yes it's true that in large centers like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Dalian people don't listen to shortwave. But these areas only account for 15% of the total population of 1.3 billion people. In many remote areas people still do listen to shortwave from domestic radio stations including the VOA, RFA and BBC.
The Foreign Office said that around half a million people from a survey conducted in China listen to shortwave. I wonder how they got this figure, because if you go to areas like Tibet or Xinjang and other areas of China where protests have taken place people will not admit listening. In Tibet just after the protests took place against the Han Chinese the local office of the Public Security Bureau was checking homes for shortwave radios and confiscating them.
Officials with the Chinese Ministry Of Informational Technology ( January 28, 2011) told me off the record on the condition I don't publish there names, they estimate the audience of the BBC in China to be around 3 to 4 million a week. But added that most people in rural areas would not admit to listening. He said if the BBC only had half a million listeners they government would not even bother to jam them.