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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 16:49 GMT
BBC East Europe voices silenced
Screen grab of BBC Slovak service website
BBC Slovak service website: No more news
The Slovak section of the BBC World Service has fallen silent after 66 years on air - the first of eight European language sections to do so.

On Friday the Polish section will deliver its last broadcast - all part of a major BBC restructuring plan.

The sombre song The End by the 1960s group The Doors has featured in the Polish section's final broadcasts.

The BBC is cutting 10 language services to pay for a new Arabic TV channel, shedding more than 200 jobs.

Change in strategy

Eighteen jobs are being axed at the Slovak service.

The Slovaks' last transmission, at 2030 GMT on Tuesday, included personal farewells from journalists on "a very emotional day," BBC World Service producer Kristian Klima said.


The journalists - some of whom had arrived in the UK as exiles from communist Czechoslovakia - described their feelings about working for the BBC.

"Some described how the BBC had helped them build a new life here," Mr Klima told the BBC News website.

Announcing the cuts in October, the director of the BBC World Service, Nigel Chapman, said that the European services were a beacon of free and independent information during the Cold War, but were now in decline.

The Slovak and Polish journalists said they would spend a few weeks after the final broadcasts archiving tapes and CDs.

Polish service chief Marek Cajzner said some of his team's material would be passed on under licence to Polish radio.

Their last broadcast will follow the normal format, he said. "We don't want to appear weepy, just professional to the end."

Asked to comment on the closures, he said "obviously I'm not happy about it".

He described the BBC's assessment of the central European media market as "somewhat optimistic", but added that central Europe "is not the greatest geopolitical need at the moment".

"My greatest fear is if something that replaces us turns out to be a flop," he added.

Over the years, the BBC has served as a training ground for European journalists, who have - in a number of cases - gone on to make significant media careers in their home countries, BBC Europe analyst Jan Repa says.



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