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Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
'Global effort' that wins awards
Thabo Mbeki
Thabo Mbeki: Questioned by News Online users
BBC News Online's Talking Point On Air, produced with BBC World Service, has won the silver award in the interactive category of the Sony Radio Academy Awards.

The multimedia phone-in show won for a special edition in which South African President Tbabo Mbeki made revealing comments about Zimbabwe's land crisis.

Talking Point On Air gives listeners worldwide the chance to quiz leading figures by email or phone.

Vladimir Putin
Russian president Vladimir Putin during the webcast
"It's a genuinely global effort," said BBC News Online World editor Nic Newman.

"We have people from Mongolia to Mozambique talking to each other and discussing issues that matter."

Thabo Mbeki was asked about his approach to tackling Aids, crime and his views on information techology with questions from people in countries as far flung as the US, China and South Africa.

'Groundbreaking'

Other world leaders who have appeared on Talking Point On Air include General Musharraf of Pakistan and Russian premier Vladimir Putin.

For Newman the exciting thing is getting an international perspective on stories that can be treated in an overwhelmingly national way.


I think the amazing thing is you don't know where Talking Point On Air will be in a few years time

Nic Newman

He described how Talking Point was able to put an Indian in Bombay on the line to the Pakistani leader.

"Very often Pakistanis and Indians do not get to talk to each other at all," he says.

"So this is genuinely groundbreaking stuff."

Technology

This is the second time Talking Point On Air has won a silver Sony.

General Musharraf
Pakistan's military ruler General Musharraf took a BBC News Online forum
In 1999 the show - then known as Newstalk - came runner-up to BBC Radio 4's Home Truths presented by John Peel, in the weekend talk category.

But later that year the programme won a gold Radio Academy British Telecom award for technical innovation at the annual radio festival in Cardiff.

The show depends on technological developments to maintain its cutting edge, award-winning form.

Already it has used a video-phone to get the Putin session on air and online. It is constantly looking at developments in lap-top and interactive technologies.

"I think the amazing thing is you don't know where Talking Point On Air will be in a few years time," said Newman.

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See also:

14 Jan 99 | Africa
Profile: Thabo Mbeki
18 May 00 | Africa
'No land crisis in SA' - Mbeki
16 Jul 99 | World
A winning mix of media
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