The agreement - signed by BBG Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson and Syed Asif Salahuddin, Clarity's CEO - means that for the first time millions of Pakistanis will have easier, improved access to Aap ki Dunyaa by listening to FM radio. The new, fast-paced Urdu service of the Voice of America (VOA) first went on the air May 10 on medium wave (AM) 972Hz.
"Pakistan is a vitally important country and we're pleased to be able to provide information and programming to so many people," said Tomlinson, head of the agency that oversees all U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting.
"This is a major achievement for which congratulations are due all around," added Gov. Steven J. Simmons, who spearheaded the drive to put Aap ki Dunyaa - "Your World" in English - on the air. "I know our listeners in Pakistan, many of whom are young people between the ages of 15 and 39, will appreciate the range and variety of Aap ki Dunyaa's informative, entertaining programs."
Salahuddin called the agreement "a very good initiative" between Pakistan and the United States. "This new partnership will provide an opportunity to eliminate misconceptions, and will inform the Pakistani people about the world, and particularly about the American community, including Pakistanis living in the United States."
Under the agreement, Clarity, which leases large blocks of time on the FM 101 Network from Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, will air Aap ki Dunyaa twice a day in the morning and the evening in cities around the country. The broadcasts begin immediately.
Those cities are Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Quetta, Sialkot, Peshawar and Hyderabad. They have a combined population of 23 million, which is about 15 percent of the country's total population.
The popular FM 101 Network will complement the existing options for listening to Aap ki Dunyaa. Since its launch, the station has been available for 12 hours a day, from 7 p.m.-7 a.m., on a medium wave (AM) signal - 972kHz - that reaches listeners in Pakistan and northeast India. It is also broadcast for three hours on shortwave (7 to 8 p.m., 10 to 11 p.m., and 6 to 7 a.m. Pakistan time).
It is also carried for 12 hours on digital audio satellite and via the Internet (www.VOANews.com/urdu). Internet enhancements will be phased in, providing audience interaction through e-mail, and texts of selected feeds, interviews, and other programs of interest to the listening audience.
Aap ki Dunyaa's regular programming features 10-minute newscasts twice an hour during most of prime time and hourly newscasts throughout the night. The service provides in-depth coverage of events affecting South Asia and the world; features on topics such as health, education, and political issues; call-in shows; roundtable discussions; and a mix of Pakistani, Indian, and Western music. With its combination of news and features, about half of Aap ki Dunyaa's unique programming consists of information.
Aap ki Dunyaa is staffed by 27 people in Washington as well as a network of more than 15 stringers in Pakistan, India and North America. Dr. Brian Q. Silver is chief of the service. All staffers from the original VOA Urdu Service are now part of the Aap ki Dunyaa team.
The BBG is an independent federal agency which supervises all U.S. government-supported non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL); the Middle Television Network (Alhurra); Radio Free Asia (RFA); Office of Cuban Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí); Radio Sawa and Radio Farda. The services broadcast in 55 languages to over 100 million people around the world.Nine members comprise the BBG, a presidentially appointed body. Current governors are Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Joaquin Blaya, Blanquita W. Cullum, D. Jeffrey Hirschberg, Edward E. Kaufman, Norman J. Pattiz, Veronique Rodman and Steven Simmons. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell serves as an ex officio member. For more information, call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 401-7000, or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.