The Voice of America (VOA) Bangla service will stop its FM and Shortwave radio transmissions after 63 years of continuous service on July 17.
The VOA Bangla service catered to audiences in Bangladesh and Bangla speaking states of India including West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. However, the television and social media content of the VOA will expand considerably as these are more heavily used by the VOA Bangla’s 16 million weekly audience members, said a press statement issued by the organisation.
The move comes as the audience for VOA’s shortwave declined to less than one percent while its social media audience base grew exponentially in recent years. Its engagement on Twitter rose by 54 percent over the last year while video views on Instagram were up by 274 percent during the same period.
Prior to winding up, the service will broadcast retrospective programming, looking back at the changes in the country since 1958.
Voice of America was launched in 1958 in the then East Pakistan at a time when there was no TV or private radio station under the Martial law. Acting VOA programming Director John Lippman said that its shortwave transmissions from outside the borders were a lifeline to the Bangla speaking population for independent news and information.