300 episodes

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

The Real Story BBC

    • Government

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

    The future of the BBC

    The future of the BBC

    The British Broadcasting Corporation is the world’s oldest and largest public service broadcaster. But as it prepares to mark its 100th birthday the organisation finds itself at a crossroads. The UK government has begun a review of the BBC’s long term funding structure with an aim of ending its dependency on television licence fees – effectively a tax on British owners of TV sets. The broadcaster's Director General Tim Davie says services and shows will have to be cut as a result of a funding gap arising from the latest licence fee deal. There are other challenges too. Young people are consuming less BBC content than their parents, preferring to rely on an array of different sources for their news and entertainment. So what should be the role of public service broadcasters in a world where information is curated by search engines and consumers gravitate towards streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for their entertainment?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.
    Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min
    Climate change: A risk to food security?

    Climate change: A risk to food security?

    While agriculture remains one of the biggest contributors to climate change, it is also most exposed to its adverse effects. Scientists say that extreme weather events will become more frequent and more intense as global temperatures continue to rise. In 2021, harsh winters, unseasonably warm summers, and sudden changes in rainfall affected food production around the globe - from the farmlands of Europe to the grasslands of Africa. There has been a jump in the prices of essential commodities like wheat and maize and traders are braced for more fluctuations. Climate risk is not only affecting farmers and their livelihoods, it is also exposing more people to food shortages. So what are the most pressing dangers and how can we protect our food supply from extreme weather events?

    Paul Henley is joined by a panel of experts.
    Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Ellen Otzen

    • 48 min
    The Beijing Winter Olympics: High stakes for China

    The Beijing Winter Olympics: High stakes for China

    The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will begin in 4 weeks’ time with more than 2,000 athletes from across the globe expected to take part. Officials have set up a bubble to keep arriving athletes and officials separate from the general population, all part of attempts to prevent coronavirus infections. Some health officials fear the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant will pose a severe challenge to organisers and athletes can expect to face tougher restrictions compared to last year's summer Olympics in Tokyo. The games are also the subject of a diplomatic boycott by the United States and some of its allies. The White House says it wants to send a clear message that it disapproves of China's human rights record, including its treatment of Uighur Muslims and a crackdown on dissents in Hong Kong. China described the move as an attempt to politicise sport. So what will success look like for the Beijing Olympics? How effective will the Covid protocols be? And how much of an impact will the diplomatic boycott have on the event’s credibility?

    Paul Henley is joined by a panel of experts.
    Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.

    • 48 min
    Do digital currencies need policing?

    Do digital currencies need policing?

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that the stability of some countries’ financial systems could soon be at risk because of unregulated crypto assets. Cryptocurrencies and other digital financial products created using blockchain technology are proliferating. They’re largely free from the controls of governments and central banks, but also free from any significant regulation. The IMF believes “comprehensive, consistent and coordinated” global regulation of the sector is now needed to prevent contagion if major crypto assets begin to collapse. Myanmar’s opposition-led shadow government this week announced that it will accept Tether, a so-called stablecoin, claiming to be pegged to the US dollar, as an official currency - a way of bypassing the control of the country’s military rulers. Meanwhile, across the border in China, authorities are cracking down on crypto and pushing ahead with plans for the country’s own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) which critics fear could mark the beginning of the end of anonymous transactions. So, is global finance undergoing a transformation? And are more stringent rules of the road necessary to protect consumers and avoid economic calamity? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.

    Producers: Zak Brophy and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min
    What's going wrong in the Balkans?

    What's going wrong in the Balkans?

    It’s been more than two decades since the war in Bosnia ended. It remains one of the darkest chapters in modern European history and cost over 100,000 lives. Since the Dayton Agreement was reached in 1995 a fragile peace has held, but last month the international community's chief representative there - Christian Schmidt - warned that conflict might return and the country is in danger of breaking up. Bosnia-Herzegovina's senior ethnic Serb politician, Milorad Dodik, has threatened to pull the territory he governs inside Bosnia out of state-level institutions including the army. The issue that drove so much of the war - Serb nationalism - now appears to be on the rise across the Western Balkans. Serbia has deployed armoured vehicles and aeroplanes along its border with Kosovo and is accused of stoking religious tensions in neighbouring Montenegro. So how dangerous is this moment in Balkans history? Are the EU and the US doing enough to diffuse tensions? And how much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Serbia’s ally Russia?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.
    Producers: Junaid Ahmed and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min
    Omicron: Did Africa get a raw deal?

    Omicron: Did Africa get a raw deal?

    The emergence of the Omicron variant has once again highlighted the difficulty in preventing the pandemic from spreading across the globe. Health experts have long argued that regions like southern Africa, where the variant was first detected, are prone to dangerous mutations of the virus when large groups of people are left unvaccinated. Only a tenth of Africa's billion plus population have received their first dose and the continent is yet to create its own Covid vaccines. African nations are reliant on vaccines from the international alliance Covax but the supply is far less than what's required. Meanwhile many on the continent have opted to pursue traditional remedies, with some denying the existence of the virus altogether. So what's the road ahead for Africa as it tries to overcome the pandemic? What sort of public engagement is required to reduce vaccine hesitancy? And how is the fight against Covid made more difficult by other health emergencies?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of experts.
    Producers: Paul Schuster and Junaid Ahmed.

    • 48 min

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