AIR's new radio station aimed at Bangladesh with Bangladesh content

NEW DELHI: In a unique venture, a new radio station of All India Radio is expected to beam shortly with exclusive programmes aimed at listeners in Bangladesh and the Indo-Bangla border.

AIR External Services director Amlan Jyoti Mazumdar told that the most unique aspect was that the new channel – Akashvani Maitree - it would also beam programmes that are either co-productions or made by Bangladesh programmers. 

The channel was to have been launched yesterday but President Pranab Mukherjee, who was to be present, put off his trip. All India Radio sources said that a new date would be fixed as soon as there is a confirmation from Rashtrapati Bhavan. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will also be present.

Mazumdar confirmed that artistes from both sides of the border had arrived in Kolkata for the formal inauguration at Rabindra Bharati auditorium, but said the artistes would come again when a new date is fixed.

The channel is also unique as it is a terrestrial channel, to be beamed from Chinsurah from a state-of-the-art 1,000 KW DRM high power transmitter which was capable of reaching out to listeners in the entire country (Bangladesh). Officials said AIR was talking to FM stations in Bangladesh to relay the programmes to ensure better service in hinterland Bangladesh.

Mazumdar also said that another unique aspect of this channel was that it could be streamed online on and through Apps from anywhere in the world and would therefore prove popular among people who spoke Bengali anywhere in the world.

This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to reach out to audiences across the border in Bangladesh as a Bangla radio service had been launched in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation Movement and discontinued in 2010.

AIR sources said the channel was being re-launched in view of the changed circumstances and the important place Bangladesh occupies in India’s foreign policy.

Earlier, the radio service ran for 6 hours 30 minutes daily, but the new Akashvani Maitree will run 16 hours a day which will include three news bulletins, one from Bangladesh.

The content would cover issues ranging from healthcare to agriculture. A programme series profiling different premier medical institutes, super speciality treatments available here, procedures to be followed for availing these services, tentative costs, visa facilitation etc. is also proposed to be broadcast on the service.

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said the service was meant specifically for the people of Bangladesh and will primarily be in Bangla and will highlight the common cultural heritage that connects India and its neighbour.

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