I often listen to BBC radio on the internet when I am in France. Sometimes the Today programme when I am having breakfast, or PM and the 6 O'clock News in the evening. Not every day, but it is good to have some British voices for company and to keep up with what is going on back in the UK and the rest of the world. This morning though, when I switched to the Today programme, I heard this: "Due to rights restrictions, this part of the programme is unavailable." I found the same on Radio 5, and even Radio 2. Most other programmes seemed OK, playing music and/or the usual dross. It struck me that these programmes - the ones I couldn't hear - were probably broadcasting something to do with the start of the Olympics. Later this evening, the same thing: No PM, no 6 O'clock news. Just that same, monotonous incantation, repeated ad finitum. The BBC News web page was showing pre-recorded footage in place of the live Olympics feed.
It begs the question, whose rights are being protected? Is it the Olympic body? Is it the commercial sponsors? Maybe it's just that the Beeb is contracted to broadcast within the UK, and other companies have exclusive rights elsewhere - fair enough - but why can't I hear the rest of the news on these programmes?
This isn't just a rant about missing out on a few radio programmes, or even about not being able to see or hear the Olympic opening ceremony. It is about something else.
Imagine being somewhere where ALL the news is controlled, all the time.
I wrote briefly last August about the difficulty in not being able to find out what was happening during the riots.