Voice of America announced on Tuesday that it was ending its Bengali-language radio service which had served Bangladesh, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura for 63 years.
Voice of America’s shortwave FM and radio broadcasts in Bengali would officially end on July 17, after 63 years, according to a press release.
At the same time, the service’s TV and social media content will grow significantly, as they are platforms more widely used by the 16 million members of the VOA Bangla weekly audience.
“When VOA Bangla was launched in January 1958, Bangladesh was known as ‘East Pakistan’ and it was martial law with no private television or radio,” said John Lippman, acting director of programming. by VOA.
“The VOA’s shortwave radio transmissions from outside the borders were a lifeline for the Bengali speaking population for independent news and information,” he said.
While the service’s shortwave radio audience is now less than 1%, VOA Bangla’s social media audience has grown significantly in recent years.
Engagement actions on the Twitter account were up 54% from the previous year, while video views on Instagram increased by 274% during the same period.
“Dozens of national TV and radio stations are vying for a Bengali-speaking audience, as well as a growing number of digital sources,” Lippman noted.
“As demand for television and online news access increases in Bangladesh, VOA’s Bangla service program offerings must be on platforms where its audience is already most active,” he said. declared.
“VOA Bangla’s radio broadcasts have brought world events to its audiences since the days when radio was the main news medium,” VOA Bangla acting chief Satarupa told staff this month. Barua.
“It was a staple in our upbringing, a household name. We will build on this reputation, by increasing our presence on media which are now used much more than short and medium wave radio, ”he said.
In the final days of its radio broadcasts, the service will broadcast retrospective programming, looking back on changes that have taken place in the country since 1958.
“Due to the history of our service in Bangladesh, working at VOA has been the ‘dream job’ for many of us. With the changes to come, this will continue to be so, ”added Barua.