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Cablegate: Expanding the Reach of Radio Programming in Pakistan

VZCZCXRO8050
OO RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHC #1949 2461624
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031607Z SEP 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE 3300
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 3096
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 8604
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 7234
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 3185

UNCLAS STATE 091949

SIPDIS
FOR AMBASSADOR FROM SRAP HOLBROOKE AND U/S MCHALE
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV AF PK BBG
SUBJECT: EXPANDING THE REACH OF RADIO PROGRAMMING IN PAKISTAN

1.(SBU) This is an action request, see paragraph 4.

2.(SBU) Background: There is a critical need to broaden terrestrial
radio transmissions and expand available content for radio programming
in Pakistan and Afghanistan. One vehicle to help us fill this need is
Voice of America's (VOA) programming, including its Pashto language
channel, Radio Deewa. Currently, Radio Deewa is carried on multiple
shortwave frequencies and on three FM transmitters in Afghanistan.
However, Radio Deewa lacks distribution on both AM and FM transmitters
within Pakistan. In order to address Radio Deewa's distribution
challenge, in September 2008, the International Broadcasting Board
(IBB) finalized an agreement with the Pakistan Broadcasting
Corporation to lease its Peshawar Transmitter. However, the lease
agreement has not yet been ratified by Pakistan's Cabinet, rendering
Radio Deewa unable to broadcast. Similarly, Voice of America's Urdu
Service has been unable to use a separate leased network of FM
transmitters in Pakistan because that lease agreement has also not
been ratified by the Cabinet.

3. (SBU) In a May 11, 2009, meeting in the United States, an IBB
official raised the transmitter leases with Pakistan's Minister of
Information Qamar Kaira, and in that meeting Minister Kaira indicated
he would render a decision on the leases "within one week." Despite
several follow-up queries from IBB officials, no decision has been
forthcoming.

4. (SBU) Action Request: Ambassador is requested to press the GOP for
final agreement on use of these transmitters without delay, including
raising the issue with President Zardari and/or Prime Minister Gilani
as necessary. End Action Request.

5. (SBU) Please report results via front-channel cable.
CLINTON

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