Cost-cutting plan to lớn move staff from London to bangkok thái lan will put them at risk of abduction, reporters say


The BBC’s Vietnamese-language service has traditionally operated out of London, along with most World Service operations. Photograph: Ian West/PA
The BBC’s Vietnamese-language service has traditionally operated out of London, along with most World Service operations. Photograph: Ian West/PA
Journalists at the đài truyền hình bbc World Service have said plans khổng lồ move its Vietnamese service from London to xứ sở nụ cười thái lan pose a danger to press freedom.

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Several reporters at the World Service raised concerns that the Vietnamese state had a history of abducting journalists from Thailand. They also suggested that đài truyền hình bbc bosses failed to comprehend that just because both countries were in south-east Asia, it did not mean Vietnamese people were naturally at home in Thailand.

“Being a critic of the Vietnamese government, even when you’re in Thailand, is not safe,” said one World Service employee. Journalists in vương quốc của nụ cười have khổng lồ annually submit their articles khổng lồ the government to lớn have their visas renewed.

Journalists cannot operate freely in Vietnam, a one-party state controlled by the country’s Communist party. As a result, most of the BBC’s Vietnamese-language staff have traditionally operated out of London, in common with the majority of the World Service’s operations.

A bbc spokesperson said: “The safety and security of our journalists is paramount. We are not proposing to open any new operations in bangkok – for a number of years the Vietnamese service has been split between thủ đô bangkok thái lan and London, with half of the journalists based in bangkok thái lan and half in London, all producing excellent & impartial journalism.”

The relocation of the London-based Vietnamese team is one of a series of cost-saving measures announced on Thursday, which includes cutting almost 400 jobs to save the đài truyền hình bbc about £28m a year. The bầu service will also move from London to Bangkok, the Korean service lớn Seoul, and the Bangla service to lớn Dhaka.

One employee said: “The đài truyền hình bbc want khổng lồ use the World Service as a token in the trò chơi about the licence fee with the government.”

Bill Hayton, a former đài truyền hình bbc Vietnam correspondent, said the relocation would result in a loss of institutional knowledge: “It’s about cost saving – you can hire people in đất nước thái lan on local rates. Vietnamese dissidents have been kidnapped in bangkok thái lan by Vietnamese security forces & that must weigh on the heads of anyone doing Vietnamese journalism in Thailand. That presents a risk to đài truyền hình bbc journalism, as well as the đài truyền hình bbc journalists involved.”

There is a tension within the đài truyền hình bbc World Service: one viewpoint is that journalists should be based in the same countries as their audience, the other is that the purpose of the World Service is lớn provide global audiences with news from London.

The bbc argues that it should focus on producing online content that reaches younger global audiences rather than trying khổng lồ find ways lớn maintain its overseas radio & television output.

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The World Service was traditionally funded by the British government as a tool of soft power, but the cost was loaded on to British licence fee payers as part of George Osborne’s austerity measures. The government has since started providing some funding again but the latest cuts have raised concerns that the UK is ceding the foreign broadcast space to state-backed competitors, such as Russia’s RT & China’s CGTN.

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