BBC veteran Tully slams end of Hindi radio service

17th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mark Tully, the veteran BBC reporter whose dispatches have been followed by generations of Indians, on Thursday led an angry attack on the corporation's axing of its Hindi-language radio service.

The BBC announced last month that it would cut foreign language output on the World Service network due to a reduction in government funding, in a move that has provoked widespread protests and questions in the British parliament.

Tully, the doyen of foreign correspondents in India, was joined by writer and campaigner Arundhati Roy, historian Ram Guha and author Vikram Seth in signing a statement that criticised the closure of BBC Hindi radio.

The group said it was "astonished" that BBC Hindi would no longer be broadcast on shortwave after April 1, denying millions of Indians -- often in poor and rural areas -- access to essential information.

"For nearly seven decades BBC Hindi radio has been a credible source of unbiased and accurate information, especially in times of crisis," said the signatories, who included a supreme court lawyer and social activists.

"We strongly urge the UK Government to re-think its decision to severely cut the funding for the BBC World Service to enable the continued transmissions of BBC Hindi on short wave radio," they said.

The BBC forecasts the overall cuts to the World Service languages' output will see audiences drop by about 30 million.

Mark Tully's voice became famous across India via the World Service, which was seen as a source of independent reporting especially during emergency rule in 1975-77 and at times of deadly ethnic riots.

Many Indian villagers listen to the BBC's Hindi output via battery-powered radios.

© 2011 AFP

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