BBC Hindi has collaborated with AudioNow, a US based mobile “phone radio” distribution company to launch BBC Hindi Radio on mobile phones across US. Targeting the Hindi speaking population in the United States, it’s a voice portal service which doesn’t need downloads or the need to access data services. Listeners can call 712.432.6586 to listen to the BBC Hindi one-hour radio news programme, or 712.432.6585 to listen to two-minute audio news bulletins in Hindi which are updated twice a day.
AudioNow also has BBC content in different languages like Urdu, Somali, Arabic and Persian. According to Audionow’s website, the service is free for listeners (apart from applicable per minute access charges), and channels have a one-time setup fee of $200.
Earlier this year, BBC had discontinued its news and current affairs radio output in Hindi, but subsequently decided to retain 1 hour of evening news and current affairs radio, on Short Wave, online and mobile. In India, last year, the BBC had tied up with Bharti Airtel, to offer short 30 second updates news bulletins as ‘Voice Blogs’. Subscribers can dial *5151*, paying Rs. 10 for 30 days as subscription, and Rs. 0.75 per minute for accessing. Another Voice Portal based service from the BBC in the sub-continent is BBC Janala in Bangladesh, which facilitates English learning via mobile phones.
The BBC also has a content deal with Inext, to make BBC Hindi content available in print and online. BBC also launched BBC Hindi mobile site featuring audio, text and image content targeting the expanding mobile internet user base in India.