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World

AFP
August 15, 2019

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BBC expands shortwave radio news coverage to ease blackout in Indian-occupied Kashmir

World

AFP
Thu, Aug 15, 2019

LONDON: The BBC said Thursday it will expand shortwave radio news coverage in Indian-occupied Kashmir to ease the impact of a communications blackout imposed by the Indian government.

The British broadcaster's announcement came after New Delhi scrapped an article of the Indian constitution granting special status to parts of Indian-occupied region.

Indian-occupied Kashmir has been under complete lock-down since the day before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the change on August 5.

The BBC said the number and length of programmes will grow in a variety of languages spoken in the densely populated region of the disputed region.

"Given the shutdown of digital services and phone lines in the region, it's right for us to try and increase the provision of news on our short wave radio services," BBC World Service Director Jamie Angus said in a statement.

"The provision of independent and trusted news in places of conflict and tension is one of the core purposes of the World Service."

The BBC said its News Hindi radio output will be extended by 30 minutes from Friday.

News Urdu -- the official language of Pakistan spoken by Muslims who compromise the majority in Indian-occupied Kashmir -- will launch a 15-minute daily programme on Monday.

The World Service added that its English morning broadcasts will end an hour later than usual.

The evening English-language news will start an hour earlier and end at their usual time.

The BBC said India is now its radio service's largest market -- picked up by 50 million people a week.

Short wave transmissions travel thousands of miles (kilometres) and are able to bounce over mountains that dominate the region.