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Bye Bye BBC Hindi Radio

After writing a history of credible news over 70 years, the service closes due to crunch of funds from UK Govt.

Rajat Arora | Delhi | January 28, 2011

The economic crisis in the UK and crunch of funds from the UK Government has forced BBC to discontinue its Hindi bulletins from April 1. As part of a global restructuring of its services, BBC is closing five of the 32 world services language services that it currently operates. BBC Hindi has no ad revenue model.

Some of the biggest news events from India were relayed to the world first by BBC, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as the All India Radio and Doordarshan dithered and held back the information for several hours.

Not only that BBC was the first to bring this news to the world, it was applauded by Rajiv Gandhi after taking over as Prime Minister of India for its credibility. On several occasions, Rajiv accepted that he believed on the news only after he heard it from Mark Tully’s mouth on BBC in the pilot’s cockpit of the flight in which he was being brought from Kolkata to Delhi.

Also, BBC never used Rajiv’s remark for its promotion and written a history of credibility on several such occasions.

Even as media like TV became more accessible and radio, especially on short-wave, went out of fashion, BBC continued to enjoy a loyal following, mainly in rural and semiurban areas. The listnership for last year was reported to be close to 10 million.

In India, BBC will continue its Hindi online service with more intensive reporting and added visual content, as well as its nominal presence on the private FM scene. The Urdu service on short-wave would also continue but the Tamil and Bangla services would move from short-wave to FM.

In an announcement made on Wednesday, BBC Director General Mark Thompson said it was "a painful day" for the organisation but stressed the decision would "inevitably have a significant impact on the audiences who use and rely upon the relevant services". Writing in the Telegraph, Thomson said the decision to discontinue some of the services was "consistent with our long-range international goals and strategy" and that the "supporters of the international role of the BBC should not despair".

Worldwide, the BBC estimates that 650 employees would lose their jobs because of this restructuring.

However, the Hindi service will continue to be available for audience by other means of distribution such as FM radio (direct broadcasts and via partners); online; mobiles and other new media devices.

The Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian services will be axed, as will English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for Africa, in a bid to save 46 million pounds a year.

Audiences are estimated to fall by more than 30 million, from 180 million to 150 million a week, the BBC said.

The World Service, which started broadcasting in 1932, currently costs 272 million pounds a year and has an audience of 241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.

Last October, the government announced the BBC would take over the cost of the World Service from the Foreign Office from 2014.

According to Thompson, the cuts were necessary due to last autumn’s Spending Review.

Radio programming in seven languages – Azeri (the official language of Azerbaijan), Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian – will end as part of the plans.

Instead there will be more focus on online, mobile and TV content distribution in these languages.

Rajat.Arora@BestMediaInfo.com

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Comments (8)
  • alok mishra- 8 years ago

    it sounds very painful that bbc hindi service is being shut down.i have grown up listening its hindi service on radio and it has played a very important role in making my stand on the issues ranging from national to international scenario.

  • dinesh kand- 8 years ago

    It is very painful to know that the only media which is giving the correct version of wolrd events is closing down,bbc may reconsider this

  • vikas shukl- 8 years ago

    Though I have heard the news of closing down the services in few languages but was sure that hindi service would not be one of them . this news is a shock to me and is like a dear one is going away from us forever .

  • m yahya kha- 8 years ago

    we understand the decision taken must be very painful for the management of BBC. for the audience of bbc hindi, BBC management should plan for "every hour updates" with joint ventures with other private associates in that region. we believe u in every part of globe.

  • Pramendra K- 8 years ago

    It is very painful to hear the closure bbc hindi news. Govt. of india should start news bulletein on the pattern on bbc hindi news to compensate the audience of bbc hindi news.

  • yogesh rai- 8 years ago

    it is really very painful.plz don't do this

  • milap- 8 years ago

    i listen bbc from 10 years and my father listen from 30 years . its a big shame. bbc hindi is a source of news for so many people. listener love bbc. so its possible, so continous bbc hindi. and its a shame for a bush house.

  • Akshat Seth- 8 years ago

    DEAR PRAMENDRA had govt of india done what you say it would be overhauling its utterly tarnished image WHICH IAM SORRY IT WILL NEVER DO UNLESS PEOPLE LEARNT FROM EGYPT The decision to close the only service with credibility is a disgrace AU REVOIRE BBCHINDI