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VOA Audience Numbers Climb in Pakistan

Washington, D.C., September 15, 2008 - The Voice of America's (VOA) weekly radio and television audience in Pakistan, scene of recent tumultuous political events, nearly doubled over the past year to more than 11 million, or almost 12% of the surveyed population, a new survey shows.

"There's been a lot of news, including a temporary crackdown on independent media, coming out of Pakistan in the past 12 months," said Danforth Austin, VOA Director. "VOA has done a good job of covering events thoroughly, and listeners in Pakistan have obviously taken note," he said. Additionally, VOA has improved cross-border distribution of its popular radio program on medium-wave frequencies, he said.

In a June 2008 survey by InterMedia, researchers found a huge jump – to 6.3% of the adult population from 2.8% – in VOA's Urdu-language radio listenership.

The weekly VOA television audience also reached 6% percent, even though the program was shut down for nearly six months after then-Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution in November 2007. Musharraf, who resigned last month, blocked television including foreign cable broadcasts and imposed restrictions on local reporters.

Researchers said political events, which included the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007 and "periodic crackdowns on key local media outlets may have driven more Pakistanis towards external information sources."

VOA's Aap Ki Dunyaa program in Urdu – Your World in English – broadcasts 12 hours a day on medium-wave (AM) and shortwave. The program, aimed at young people, includes news, information, music, call-in shows and features. VOA’s Urdu service also produces a daily, 30-minute television program – Beyond the Headlines – carried on two national TV networks, Aaj and Geo. Urdu is the country's predominant language.

VOA also has a Pashto-language program focusing on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. Deewa Radio, a 24/7 stream, produces six hours of news, features, current affairs and other programs. Pakistanis also listen to VOA English.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA ( broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call the VOA Public Relations office at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail