Radio Muzaffarabad goes off air


Muzaffarabad, Sep 14: Functioning in pitiable conditions after the October 2005 earthquake, Azad Kashmir Radio Muzaffarabad (AKRM) has gone off air for the past three days, but the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) bosses in Islamabad seem to be least bothered about it.
The AKRM was inaugurated in PaK on October 15, 1960 by the then President K H Khurshid to stimulate the Kashmiris on both sides of Line of Control (LoC). Notwithstanding meager resources, the station however drew huge listenership on both sides, putting across programmes in Kashmiri‚ Gojri, Pahari and Urdu languages during 18 hours transmissions, thanks to the highly committed professional broadcasters of yesteryears.
Initially, the transmissions were aired through a one-kilowatt shortwave (SW) transmitter. Later, the then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto upgraded it by sanctioning a 10-kilowatt medium wave (MW) transmitter.
In 1983, a 150-KW High Power Transmitter (HPT) replaced 10-KW MW transmitter to expand its reception in as far area as possible.
However, the October 2005 earthquake played havoc with the buildings and equipment of AKRM in its broadcasting house in the main old city and the HPT Centre on the outskirts, brining its transmissions to halt.
The AKRM resumed its transmissions provisionally in the last week of October 2005 when an FM transmitter was installed. Over the past seven years, neither the building of AKRM nor of the HPT centre was rebuild and the skeleton staff at AKRM (35 against the sanctioned strength of 125) has been running transmissions from flimsy tents and shelters, braving scorching summer heat and biting winter cold, from 6 am to 11 p.m. with a 2 hour midday break.
Being an FM radio, the transmissions were heard in a very limited area. The HPT was made functional but it has been relaying ‘National Broadcasting Service’ programmes and not the ones aired from AKRM through FM transmitter.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, the FM transmitter also went out of order, thus suspending even the FM transmissions of AKRM, which in PBC documents is referred to as Rawalpindi-II.
“Three days on, the AKRM which was once enthusiastically heard across the state as well as in many areas of Pakistan has been silent but nobody at the PBC headquarters seems to be bothered although they have been informed about it in writing,” sources said.
“Even the government functionaries in Muzaffarabad seem to have turned a blind eye towards this situation,” they regretted.
AKRM sources said after the earthquake, the PBC bosses had pledged, on a number of occasions, installation of 100-KW MW transmitter in Muzaffarabad, but that promise was not fulfilled till date.
“Its ostensibly because the PBC people don’t feel themselves under any compulsion to do it on urgent basis and also none in the ranks of (PaK) government has ever forcefully taken up this issue with them,” sources said.
When contacted, AKRM’s station director Javed Iqbal confirmed that FM transmitter had gone out of order from 1 pm on Wednesday.
“We have informed the (PBC) headquarters and they say that they will be doing something,” he said.
“Indeed its very important station and if the headquarter pays attention, this problem can be resolved.”
Pertinently, Radio Kashmir Srinagar has a 300-KW MW and 100-KW SW transmitters, apart from four powerful relaying stations along the LoC.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST

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