August 27, 2008
The Asia Editor for BBC World TV has left after 29 years at the corporation. Rita Payne told AIM magazine she still had a lot of energy and saw it, “as a new beginning rather than retirement”.
Born in the Indian state of Assam, Rita came to Britain in 1971 and started at the BBC’s World Service Radio News as a sub-editor. Prior to that she had worked as a freelance journalist.
When she joined the World Service newsroom, she was working among very few women and ethnic minorities. “For the first 10 or 12 years here there wasn’t this new generation of British Asians who are now everywhere – they’re reporting, they’re at war, they’re outstanding, they’re capable. In those days it wasn’t much of a factor,” she told the BBC’s in-house magazine Ariel this week.
In 1995 she joined BBC World TV as a producer of Asia Today and rapidly rose up the ranks to become its editor for Asia programming.
She told AIM her farewell party was very enjoyable.
“I was sent on a farewell visit to India and they organised a huge party for me, as well as a video with contributions from most World TV presenters and Asia correspondents. The video was a spoof programme with breaking news about my retirement from the BBC. It’s been a wonderful way to end my time with the BBC for which I will be eternally grateful.”
She added: “I will still be maintaining links as unofficial adviser to the Channel on Asia-related developments.”
Rita has since been elected Chair of the Commonwealth Journalists Association, which she now plans to develop through her extensive list of contacts.
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