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BBC Urdu service to restart live news

BBC's Urdu service is set to resume its live news bulletins on two Pakistani FM radio stations from Tuesday, six months after they were stopped.

world Updated: May 05, 2008 21:18 IST

BBC's Urdu service is set to resume its live news bulletins on two Pakistani FM radio stations from Tuesday, six months after they were stopped as part of the media gag imposed during emergency last year.

BBC Pakistan started airing five-minute news bulletins on FM partner stations last year after obtaining written permission from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) following protracted negotiations.

However, within days of launching the BBC bulletins, the FM stations came under pressure from regulators to block them.

The matter was taken to the Sindh High Court, which granted the BBC and its partner stations a stay, said a statement from the BBC.

The High Court ordered that the status quo should be maintained and BBC and its partner stations were to continue airing BBC bulletins till the case was decided.

Following the imposition of emergency on November 3 last year, the status quo was "forcibly altered by the regulators and the bulletins were taken off air", the statement said.

The BBC news bulletins will now resume tomorrow after a break of six months, BBC Urdu's head Mohammed Hanif said. "We welcome the Pakistan government's commitment to allowing the free flow of information. We know our partner stations and listeners have valued the BBC's impartial and editorially independent news and information," Hanif said.

Pakistan's Information and Broadcasting Minister Sherry Rehman told the BBC that, in keeping with the new government's media policy, there were now no restrictions on BBC bulletins being broadcast on local channels.

"As far as I know, there should be no restrictions on the BBC that PEMRA had imposed," she said, adding PEMRA and information ministry would act as a facilitator and not as a regulator.