HC Deb 23 April 1958 vol 586 cc929-31
2. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for how many hours a day vernacular broadcasts are made from British-controlled radio stations to the Persian Gulf, Aden and Somalia regions; and how this compares with vernacular broadcasts from Cairo Radio.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Vernacular broadcasts from British-controlled radio stations to the Persian Gulf, Aden and the Somalia regions are as follows:

  1. (a) The British Broadcasting Corporation Arabic Service broadcasts nine and a half hours a day.
  2. (b) The British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts in Somali for three periods a week of 15 minutes each. It is hoped: to expand this service to a daily one of 30 minutes as soon as possible.
  3. (c) The British Broadcasting Corporation broadcasts in Swahili for 15 minutes on four days a week and for 30 minutes on three days a week.
  4. (d) Aden Radio broadcasts for five hours a day in Arabic and it is expected that the station will be able to relay the Arabic Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation for an addition of two hours a day from the beginning of May.
  5. (e) Radio Somali at Hargeisa broadcasts in Somali for 13¼ hours a week.
As regards Egyptian-controlled stations, the "Voice of the Arabs" broadcasts for about 81 hours a day. This programme includes a daily 25 minute transmission entitled "Arab Gulf and South Programme" which is directed at the Persian Gulf and Aden and which once a week includes material for Somalia.

Cairo Radio also broadcasts for one hour a day in Swahili and 45 minutes a day in Somali.

Mr. Wall

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that comprehensive reply, may I ask whether he feels that there is a case for the construction of a high-powered station in East Africa to counteract the pro-Egyptian propaganda, which is having a certain amount of effect both in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We are considering various proposals for extending the facilities available, but I am afraid I am not in a position to make a statement today.

5. Mr. Philips Price

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what steps are being taken, in view of the continued hostile propaganda of Egypt in the "Voice of the Arabs" against this country and the West generally throughout the Middle East, to counteract it in British broadcasts.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

The Arabic Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcasts in Arabic for 9½ hours a day on short and medium waves, gives an accurate and objective account of world events in its news services and presents the British and Western point of view in its talks and commentaries. In addition, the General Overseas Service in English, which broadcasts for nearly 24 hours a day, can also be heard on short and medium waves for considerable periods of the day in the Middle East. There are also broadcasts from Aden—in Arabic—and Hargeisa—in English—which can be heard in parts of the area.

Mr. Price

Are attempts made to answer the allegations which appear in the "Voice of the Arabs"?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Yes. The B.B.C. monitors a very large number of the broadcasts coming from the "Voice of the Arabs", and these broadcasts are taken into account in the B.B.C.'s own services.

Mr. J. Johnson

Has our ambassador in Cairo been asked to see Colonel Nasser about all this stuff, and, if so, with what effect?

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

We do not have an ambassador in Cairo.

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