BBC, the British Public Broadcaster, has shut down the Hindi Radio on shortwave on January 31, after an uninterrupted run of 80 years. The audience for the BBC Hindi’s Radio Service has been in free fall in the last few years and was reduced to 40 Lakh in last year from 1.1 crores in 2011.
BBC is carrying out the cost-cutting exercise, as the British government has reduced the funds to public broadcaster drastically. The radio service was a loss-making business and in order to divert the existing resources to Television and digital- where BBC lags behind to even newbies.
A few months ago, when Modi government abolished Article 370 from the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir and suspended communication and digital services to maintain public order: BBC increased airtime for the region keep the locals ‘informed’. The Modi government was, obviously, not happy with it, as any misinformation could have threatened the public order and national security.
However, the government did not take any action against the organization at that time. “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 shortwave radio services,” said BBC World Service director Jamie Angus.
But, it is easy to fight the government, in comparison to the market. The fact remains that the people did not like the BBC’s Radio services due to its technological shortcoming, boring way of news presentation and obviously, the irrelevancy of the medium in the age of TV and internet.
Rajesh Joshi, the last head of BBC’s Hindi Radio team, wrote a moving obituary in Hindustan Times, with the same old leftist argument that ‘despite the reduction in the audience, BBC was highly influential and has ‘emotional connect’ with them’.
“Radio listenership, no doubt, has dwindled over the years, but as the American media scholar, Jeff Jarvis once said, the success of journalism shouldn’t always be measured on the “old mass media metrics” of the number of eyeballs that watched our message. Instead, it should be based on whether journalism helped people meet their goals, improve their lives and communities,” wrote Joshi.
“BBC did help at least four generations of Indians to meet their goals, improve their lives, and find their place in the world,” he argued.
BBC has not only shut down the Hindi Radio service but also the BBC Urdu’s news and current affairs programme Sairbeen, which was closed last year, in the cost-cutting exercise. The reason behind closing was the same as that of Hindi- the dwindling audience and loss in the business.