14 MARCH 1941, Page 14


SIR,—Sniping at the B.B.C. is a popular pastime. A rather easy one, too, because the number and variety of the B.B.C.'s activities offer so many targets. I agree with Mr. Sr. John Ervine. I heard the Mussolini broadcast in question and found nothing that was cheap, puerile or gratuitous, nor anything objectionable in the "sarcastic inflexions of the announcers' voices." If you, Sir, had been reading the same speech to your family circle, would you have intoned it in a level voice as though it were a Stock Exchange report? Or would its bombast and sliminess and distortion have been reflected, even unconsciously, in your voice? If the B.B.C.'s report of the speech had been untruthful or distorted or unfair, they would be open to censure. But it was not ; and as many thousands of listeners-in would not see any report of the speech in the Press, it was surely neither unfair nor unprofitable to convey it to them in such a way as would help their correct understanding of it. If the retort is that the B.B.C. may treat similarly a speech made, say, by a British politician, I can only say that I don't believe they would do so, and that, if they do, I will join the snipers. After all, Mussolini is our enemy, and a dirty, treacherous, lying gangster as well.

I suggest that the B.B.C.'s broadcast of the speech was not intended to be a textually complete report (what you call " straight news, pure and simple "), but was intended to be, and was in fact, a summary of the speech with occasional appropriate comment, even if the com- ment was conveyed only by an inflexion of the announcer's voice.

I am not much of a listener-in to the B.B.C. programmes, because I am not personally interested in the larger part of them. But other people are ; and my firm belief is that the B.B.C. discharge a duty of great complexity and enormous difficulty with astonishing success.— Yours faithfully, HERBERT WORSLEY.

Little Gregories, Theydon Bois, Essex.