Depending on how one defines the BBC’s purpose, its licence fee income of £3.8 billion is either too much or not enough. In a world dominated by Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, it’s ever harder for the BBC to keep up. It is estimated that Netflix alone will have spent upwards of $12 billion on content in 2018. It has a global audience of more than 130 million, a figure that is increasing by more than two million each month. The problem is that, faced with such numbers, the licence fee can never provide sufficient funds to allow the BBC to compete. It’s only a matter of time before Wimbledon and other prized parts of the output go the way of the Premier League and Sir David Attenborough onto better financed channels. That’s not the only difficulty. It is generally reckoned that if the BBC is to justify being the beneficiary of a poll tax, the BBC needs to reach at least 90 per cent of the UK audience, although there is a bit of wiggle room in terms of the period over which that measurement should be made – whether they need to watch once a week, or once a month, or what. Since the BBC’s funding depends on hitting this number, it is a higher priority than the more widely proclaimed purposes of informing, educating and entertaining the audience. To reach 90 per cent the BBC needs to be everywhere: if young people are migrating from TV to YouTube, the BBC has to have a YouTube channel. And it has to work out how to collect the licence fee from YouTube users. The decreasing use of TV sets, which are being replaced by computer and phone screens, will make it harder for the BBC to charge all its viewers. These issues are pressing: from the BBC’s point of view the intensity of the competition and the difficulties of raising revenue are likely to get worse quickly.
Historians of Northern Ireland have plenty of material to work with. A book called Lost Lives (2001) records the lives and deaths of each of the 3720 people who were killed during the Troubles. Fighters, activists, officials and politicians on all sides have spoken to the media and written books themselves. Public inquiries have published hundreds of pages of hitherto secret evidence. Journalists, some of whom managed to get impressively close to the leaders of paramilitary groups, have chronicled what happened. One aspect of the conflict all these sources reveal is the extent of the British state’s confusion about how to deal with Gerry Adams. Police repeatedly raided Adams’s childhood home. When he was 23 the courts interned him for five years, beginning with a spell on a prison ship. A few months later he was released so that the RAF could fly him to London for talks at a house in Cheyne Walk with Willie Whitelaw, the then home secretary. In 1988 Mrs Thatcher banned his voice from being broadcast but a decade later Tony Blair negotiated with him as a key participant in the peace process. Today he has easy access to the top British leadership. But Adams has not been entirely rehabilitated. In 2013 the police questioned him about his failure to disclose his brother’s sex abuse and the next year they held him for four days in connection with the 1972 murder of a Belfast mother of ten, Jean McConville.
For over a decade the inaccessible and mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan was home to a swirling array of violent jihadists.
The Pakistan and Afghan Taliban movements, al-Qaeda and less well-known militant outfits such as the Haqqani Network used the area to hold hostages, train militants, store weapons and deploy suicide bombers to attack targets in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
A CENTURY ago, in British-ruled Multan, the Punjab authorities detained a messenger by the name of Abdul Haq. He had travelled from Kabul with three yellow silk letters sewn into the lining of his coat.
LONDON: A senior Whitehall official has denied that the British government is trying to protect the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) from legal charges.
“There is no pressure from any part of the British state to go soft on the MQM,” said Home Office Permanent Secretary Mark Sedwill.
Largely because 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism is often cited as the fountainhead of violent jihadism, but that is to make too much of its significance compared to other Islamic movements, some of them little known in the West.
Owen Bennett Jones investigates the beliefs of an influential, global Islamic movement that was founded in a small Indian town.
The story of India’s Deobandi school of Islam, which has inspired both a peaceful global missionary movement and the Taliban.
LONDON: The Metropolitan Police’s National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit has submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) containing evidence of suspected money laundering activities of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
Here’s a tale of two madressahs: one Deoband north of Delhi, the other in Akora Khattak, Pakistan.