Radio Aap ki Dunya acquires Pakistani outlet
WASHINGTON: Radio ‘Aap ki Dunya,’ the youth-oriented composite programme beamed at Pakistan by Voice of America, will also now be heard through certain daytime hours.
According to an agreement signed here Friday between the programme’s sponsors, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and Clarity Communications (Pakistan), a private company supported by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Aap ki Dunya fare will now be available to Pakistani listeners through daytime segments on FM 101. Clarity has leased large chunks time from FM101 which is Radio Pakistan’s youth channel.
Earlier attempts by BBG to sign a direct one-to-one agreement with Radio Pakistan or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, instead of what many believe is one of their proxies, were stymied by senior officials of the Ministry. Negotiations that began in March this year soon showed that while the Ministry of Information was open and willing to carry US propaganda and entertainment directed at age group 15 to 39 years, it did not wish to do so itself. The Americans were encouraged to deal with Clarity Communications, which they ultimately did.
What is mystifying about the deal is its financial basis. BBG representatives who addressed a press conference at Voice of America headquarters Friday morning, were unwilling to say what the financial basis of the deal was or how much money was being paid to Clarity. Clarity chief executive Asif Salahuddin, who was present at the press conference, also preferred silence rather than specify the financial basis of the arrangement. A news release issued by BBG called the agreement with Clarity “historic”. It termed Pakistan “a vitally important country”, describing the new arrangement as a “major achievement for which congratulations are due all around.”
Radio Aap ke Dunya, beamed from Washington with a staff of 27 people, most of them freshly recruited Pakistanis or Pakistani-Americans, broadcasts on medium wave from 7 p.m to 7 a.m. Pakistan standard time. It also broadcasts for three hours on shortwave from 7 to 8 p.m., 10 to 11 p.m. and 6 to 7 a.m. every day. With the help of FM101, it will now be able to send out its message to Pakistani listeners during daytime hours as well.
The sponsors of Aap ki Dunya claimed at the press conference that its programmes were gaining a new and admiring listenership in Pakistan. Material distributed included snippets from messages received from listeners not only from Pakistan but also countries as far apart as Saudi Arabia where the programmes are heard. A listener in Mianwali wrote, “Your new style, new sound, if great … what a beautiful mix! Everything is so perfectly balanced … you hit upon a great idea.” Another listener in Punjab called the change in VOA’s Urdu broadcasts “wonderful”, adding, “We immensely enjoy the new style of news, the overall standard of programmes”, and the “lively manner” of the broadcasters. A listener in Sindh wanted Sindhi music to be added to the programme fare, while one from NWFP found the news programmes “informative.” Another Sindhi listener wrote to say that after listening to the programmes he had come to the conclusion that the US had changed its attitude to Pakistan. One listener from NWFP’s tribal areas wrote, “I liked what I heard and I have been regularly listening.” He also wanted a photograph of Washington.
A young listener in Lahore said he liked the programmes so much that he sacrificed his sleep in order to enjoy the music and the news. He also liked regular features such as ‘slam in America’, ‘Youth Time’ and ‘Inn se Milyay’ A man from Saudi Arabia wrote, “Every evening, going home form work which is 80 km, Aap ku Dunya which used to be VOA, is my driving companion. One of the producers of the programme told Daily Times that some of the women presenters had begun receiving ardenly worded love letters from distracted young Pakistanis. Some asked for pictures, some wanted written answers, others made proposals of a more permanent nature. khalid hasan