A copy of the digital archives of the BBC’s Hungarian radio service, reflecting the country’s history, culture and political events over 66 years, will be placed in Hungary’s national library and public radio archives after an agreement was signed by the BBC World Service and the library today.
The 1,100 discs contain copies of archived broadcasts made by the BBC’s central archives up until the end of December last year, when the broadcaster terminated ten of its language services, including the Hungarian section, to accommodate a new Arabic television news channel. The head of the Hungarian service, Bela Dajka, said that the material would not only be freely available to researchers but to programme makers, too.
The process of digitisation started five years ago. Dajka noted that it was not a uniform practice within the BBC World Service to archive the broadcasts of every language section. But while in the past few years programmes were recorded for posterity in their entirety, many broadcasts from the period after the first in 1939 were missing - initially live broadcasts were not recorded at all.
Many key events covered by the section, such as the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty in 1949 and the 1956 uprising, remain intact, however. At such times, the BBC was a life-line for dissidents and anyone desperate for accurate and impartial coverage, when all the state put out was propaganda.