Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will fly into Sri Lanka to attend CHOGM 2013 – the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo from 10th – 17th November 2013. Prime Minister Tony Abbott will be flying into a country where a fellow Australian did so much for broadcasting in Sri Lanka. This great Australian is Clifford Dodd who was a first class radio administrator. Clifford Dodd was sent to Ceylon under the Colombo Plan.
The Colombo Plan is a regional organization that embodies the concept of collective inter-governmental effort to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary focus of all Colombo Plan activities is on human resources development.
Formally, the organization was born out of a Commonwealth Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in January 1950. At this meeting, a plan was established to provide a framework within which international cooperation efforts could be promoted to raise the standards of people in the region. Originally conceived as lasting for a period of six years, the Colombo Plan was extended several times until 1980, when it was extended indefinitely. Initially it was called the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. It has grown from a group of seven Commonwealth nations – Australia, Britain, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand and Pakistan – into an international organization of 27, including non-Commonwealth countries. When it adopted a new constitution in 1977, its name was changed to “The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific” to reflect the expanded composition of its enhanced membership and the scope of its activities.
Dodd was appointed Director Commercial Service by the Government of Ceylon working alongside Livy Wijemanne who was Assistant Director. He soon changed the face of Radio Ceylon – the Commercial Service became a huge success in what is the oldest and finest radio station in Asia. Broadcasting Services in Sri Lanka were inaugurated only 3 years after the inauguration of broadcasting in Europe. Sri Lanka has a proud history in world broadcasting.
Here is what Wikipedia says about Clifford Dodd:
Clifford R. Dodd was an administrator and radio expert, with twenty years experience in broadcasting in Australia, before he arrived in Sri Lanka. He was sent by the Australian Government under the Colombo Plan to work in Radio Ceylon. He was appointed Director of the newly formed Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon.
The Colombo Plan was established in July 1951 to provide economic aid to areas of south and southeast Asia. The Headquarters are in Colombo, the former capital city of Sri Lanka.
Dodd, arriving in Colombo in the early 1950s, soon created the infrastructure of the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon and made it into a successful brand. Dodd hand picked some of the best Ceylonese talents around and trained them as broadcasters. The announcers trained in the 1950s by Clifford Dodd and Livy Wijemanne went on to become legendary announcers of the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon, among them: Vernon Corea, Tim Horshington, Greg Roskowski, Jimmy Bharucha, Christopher Greet and others. One of Dodd’s protégés, Vernon Corea was appointed as the BBC’s Ethnic Minorities Adviser – the first Asian to be appointed to senior management at the BBC in 1978. It was under Dodd’s tenure that the Indian announcer Ameen Sayani was brought into launch Binaca Geetmala, a countdown of Hindi filmi music on the All Asia Service. It enjoyed iconic status across India.
The training at Radio Ceylon was rigorous, Dodd wanted the highest standards in broadcasting. He has the rare honour of being immortalised in a cartoon by the famous Sri Lankan cartoonist Aubrey Collette who published a cartoon titled ‘Odd Man Dodd.’
Dodd created a positive business environment in Radio Ceylon. Dodd was a charismatic figure who had firm leadership skills. His arrival in Torrington Square created a real buzz in broadcasting circles in Ceylon. Clifford R.Dodd changed the face of broadcasting in the island. He upgraded the Hindi Service of Radio Ceylon. Millions of listeners in the Indian sub-continent wrote in and tuned into the radio station, the oldest in South Asia. Dodd was a prime mover in attracting advertisers who were aiming at the vast Indian market via the medium of radio.
Dodd brought in tough new measures, some were not popular. He maintained that some Radio Ceylon staff, including the announcers who were on the payroll, were not entitled to permanency, or to retire on a pension. Radio Ceylon announcer, Mervyn Jayasuriya, observed: ‘His credo as I have said before, was Hire and Fire.’ Dodd claimed at a meeting with Radio Ceylon Director General John Lampson, and a senior civil servant Mr. M. Rajendra, who was Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Broadcasting,that an officer was entitled to a pension if that officer had served the government for one or two decades. If however an announcer lost his voice during that period, he would be unable to work, and Radio Ceylon should have the ability to get rid of him, argued the Director of the Commercial Service. Mervyn Jayasuriya who presented the case for the announcers said: “Gentlemen, just as an announcer might lose his voice and so become a liability, so can a surgeon lose his eyesight, and a Director or Administrator lose his sanity and become useless to the service of the State. Is there a little bias here, or am I just being silly?” The announcers won the day.
Clifford R. Dodd is widely regarded as the Father of Commercial Broadcasting in Sri Lanka. Under his stewardship, Radio Ceylon reached the pinnacle of fame, fortune and popularity – millions of rupees poured into the station as a result of the success of the Commercial Service.
Dodd returned to Australia after his Colombo Plan assignment. He was succeeded by the first Ceylonese Director of the Commercial Service of Radio Ceylon, Livy Wijemanne.
Clifford Dodd was extremely supportive of Vernon Corea, he saw Vernon as a huge talent and he was proved right – Vernon Corea went on to enjoy a career of 45 years in broadcasting in Sri Lanka and in the United Kingdom.
Vernon also enjoyed close relationships with Commonwealth broadcasters – many senior Australian broadcasters from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation visited Vernon at his residence in 5 Maha Nuge Gardens in Colombo through out the 1960s and 1970s. They have met his family and enjoyed many a evening in Maha Nuge Gardens.