The BBC World Service has extended output on shortwave radio in Indian-administered Kashmir to provide news and information during media shutdown.
The shutdown has left people with very few options for accessing news at this time. However, news services from the BBC continue to be available in the region – through shortwave radio transmissions in English, Urdu, Hindi, Dari and Pashto. As well as providing a source of news to the region, the South Asian language services have brought added depth to the BBC’s coverage of the Kashmir story.
The recent introduction of four new languages services for India – Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu, following additional investment from the UK Government – has enabled the BBC to offer a wider portfolio of languages and distribution methods to a region that is geographically diverse as well as politically tense.
The Director of the BBC World Service, Jamie Angus, said: “The provision of independent and trusted news in places of conflict and tension is one of the core purposes of the World Service. Given the shutdown of digital services and phone lines in the region, it’s right for us to try and increase the provision of news on our short wave radio services.
“Audiences in both India and Pakistan trust the BBC to speak with an independent voice, and we know that our reporting through several moments of crisis this year has been popular and valued by audiences who turn to us when tensions are highest.”
BBC News Hindi radio output (9515 and 11995kHz) will be extended by 30 minutes from Friday 16 August. The full one-hour news programme will be on air from 19:30 to 20:30 local time.
On Monday 19 August, BBC News Urdu will launch a 15-minute daily programme, Neemroz. Broadcast at 12.30 local time on 15310kHz and 13650kHz, the programme will focus on news coming from Kashmir and the developments around the issue, and include global news roundup tailored for audiences in Kashmir.
BBC World Service English broadcasts (11795kHz, 9670kHz, 9580kHz, 7345kHz, 6040kHz) will be expanded, with the morning programming extended by an hour, ending at 08.30 local time; and the afternoon and evening programming starting an hour earlier, at 16.30 local time.
This year’s Global Audience Measure for the BBC showed that India is now the World Service’s largest market, with a weekly audience of 50m.