The sun starts to set on the BBC empire

First Hong Kong went back to the mainland, and now this: U.K. budget cuts force the end of Mandarin broadcasts

Published January 28, 2011 11:29PM (EST)

Sign o' the times: A tweet from Steve Herman, a Voice of America correspondent based in Seoul:

BBC to end radio programming in Mandarin, stop broadcasts to China. Meanwhile, Radio China Int'l broadcasting in English 24/7.

Overall, the new U.K. government has ordered the BCC to cut its 237 million pound annual budget by 46 million, resulting in more than 400 layoffs in the next 12 months. The cuts are part of the government's aggressive austerity regime, (the BBC is government-owned), but are already generating pushback from both Conservative and Labor politicians.

I guess the symbolism just hurts too much, even for the Tories. When you start closing down the BBC World Service, you are conceding once and for all that the sun really has set on the British Empire.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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