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BBC to end short wave Hindi radio service

As part of its continuing efforts to cut costs, BBC today announced that its Hindi radio service available on short wave will cease from March, besides the closure of five World Service language services.

world Updated: Jan 27, 2011 10:39 IST

As part of its continuing efforts to cut costs, BBC on Thursday announced that its Hindi radio service available on short wave will cease from March, besides the closure of five World Service language services.

In all, the raft of measures announced on Thursday will lead to 650 job losses.

BBC director general Mark Thompson described the day as a 'painful day' for BBC.

However, the Hindi service will continue to be available for audience by other means of distribution such as FM radio (direct broadcasts and via partners); online; mobiles and other new media devices.

The Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian services will be axed, as will English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for Africa, in a bid to save 46 million pounds a year.

Audiences are estimated to fall by more than 30 million, from 180 million to 150 million a week, the BBC said.

The World Service, which started broadcasting in 1932, currently costs 272 million pounds a year and has an audience of 241 million worldwide across radio, television and online.

Last October, the government announced the BBC would take over the cost of the World Service from the Foreign Office from 2014.

According to Thompson, the cuts were necessary due to last autumn's Spending Review.

Radio programming in seven languages - Azeri (the official language of Azerbaijan), Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian - will end as part of the plans.

Instead there will be more focus on online, mobile and TV content distribution in these languages.

BBC Global News Director Peter Horrocks said: "This is a painful day for BBC World Service and the 180 million people around the world who rely on the BBC's global news services every week.

"We are making cuts in services that we would rather not be making. But the scale of the cut in BBC World Service's Grant-in-Aid funding is such that we couldn't cope with this by efficiencies alone".

He added: "What won't change is the BBC's aim to continue to be the world's best known and most trusted provider of high quality impartial and editorially independent international news.

"We will continue to bring the BBC's expertise, perspectives and content to the largest worldwide audience, which will reflect well on Britain and its people," he said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), said that the World Service was "vital" and "should be protected".

The NUJ said it would hold a demonstration outside the World Service headquarters in central London.

"These ferocious cuts to a valued national service are ultimately the responsibility of the coalition government, whose policies are destroying quality public services in the UK," Dear said.