PRESS RELEASE - Washington, D.C.,
November 7, 2007 - The Voice of America'sUrdu Service has expanded its radio news broadcasts to 12.5 hours daily fromfive hours in response to the crisis in Pakistan."The Pakistani government has shut down all independent media insidePakistan," said VOA Director Danforth Austin. "We find ourselves, along withthe BBC, among the only international broadcasters currently heard inside ofPakistan."VOA's Urdu Service is now broadcasting an all-news format on radio inresponse to the Pakistani government's crackdown. VOA's two televisionaffiliates-GEO TV News and Aaj TV-are off the air inside of Pakistan.However, VOA continues to reach the audience via radio and the Internet.Today, VOA Urdu added an additional radio broadcast from 11:30 a.m. to 12noon Pakistan time to supplement its 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Pakistan timelive news and current affairs programming.Some highlights of coverage include live interviews with Benazir Bhutto andNawaz Sharif, two former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, who were guests on theVOA Urdu program Roundtable Discussion, as the news blackout was beingimposed in Pakistan. VOA Urdu also interviewed many Pakistani oppositionfigures, including Iftekhar Gilani, spokesperson of Benazir Bhutto's party,and religious leaders such as Qazi Hussain Ahmad, along withman-on-the-street reaction in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, andIslamabad.In addition to VOA Urdu, VOA's six-hour Deewa Radio, live broadcasts inPashto to the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, also switched to anall-news format to cover the crisis. Deewa has also provided extensivecoverage including the U.S. and international reaction and has interviewed alarge number of political, religious and tribal leaders inside Pakistan whoare under house arrest.The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimediainternational broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through theBroadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours ofnews, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to anestimated worldwide audience of more than 115 million people. Programs areproduced in 45 languages.For more information, call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959,or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Via Alokesh GuptaNew Delhi, India.