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Curtains for Voice of America Bangla radio service from July 18

Voice of America Bangla will cease broadcasting from July 18

Come July 18, there will be no news or programmes that will be broadcast from Voice of America (VoA) Bangla.

Following a journey of more than six decades, the VoA on July 13 made an announcement that they will be halting their radio service in Bangla. The transmission had become a habit for millions of listeners spread across Bangladesh and beyond, in the neighbouring India, with people in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, tuning to it regularly.

In a report in DhakaTribune, according to a media release, no news or programs in Bangla will be heard from the radio station from July 18. This is because the FM and shortwave radio transmissions of VoA would officially come to an end a day earlier, that is July 17.

While shutting down this platform, the broadcasting service willconcentrate on television and social media and expand its operations considerably. The reason being these platforms are being used very extensively by the VoA Bangla’s 16 million weekly audience members, as reported in Outlook India.

Going down the memory lane, the Acting VoA Programming Director John Lippman said: “When VOA Bangla launched in January 1958, Bangladesh was known as ‘East Pakistan’ and it was a territory under martial law with no television or private radio. VOA’s shortwave radio transmissions from outside the borders were a lifeline to the Bangla-speaking population for independent news and information.”

At present VoA’s shortwave radio audience is less than one per cent while on the other hand its social media audiences have grown significantly in recent years.

Talking about this aspect, Lippman said: “Dozens of domestic television and radio stations compete for Bangla-speaking audiences, as well as an increasing number of digital sources. As the demand for TV and online access to news in Bangladesh expands, VOA’s Bangla service program offerings need to be on the platforms its audience already is most active.”

According to the Acting VOA Bangla Service Chief Satarupa Barua “VOA Bangla radio broadcasts have brought world events to its audiences since the days when radio was the primary news medium. It was a staple in our upbringing, a household name. We will build on that reputation, increasing our presence on media that is now far more heavily used than short wave and medium wave radio.”

In order to allow the listeners to relive the past, the service will broadcast retrospective programming, looking back at the changes in the country since 1958.