Washington, D.C. — Audiences in Mali can now get the latest news from the Voice of America (VOA) on an FM transmitter that went on the air today — part of a stepped-up response to the Malian crisis by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
“Getting vital news to people in conflict zones has long been a core mission of U.S. international broadcasting, and in recent years we have extended our reach in Iraq, Afghanistan and other nations as needed,” said BBG Board member Susan McCue. “Using every means at our disposal, we will now do more to help safeguard lives in Mali with accurate and up-to-date information about events that affect the people there and in the region.”
The new transmitter will allow 24/7 broadcasting of targeted news and information in French to listeners in Bamako, Mali’s capital.
“With this new capacity, listeners on 102.0 FM in Bamako will have 24-hour access to VOA programs, including reports from our network of correspondents in the region and the global reaction to the latest developments in the West African nation,” said VOA Director David Ensor.
In response to the crisis in Mali, VOA has increased its on-the-ground reporting and has placed additional news and information on the new Mali1 mobile platform. The Mali1 mobile service was added in August to take advantage of the large and growing number of mobile phone users, and as a way to get news to regions where extremists have shut down independent media.
The BBG is also testing a pilot program that since September has been providing mobile newscasts in the Songhai language, which is commonly used in areas of northern Mali that are now controlled by Islamist extremists. The agency is consulting with Congress as the results of this pilot project come in to discuss its expansion and additional broadcast options for the rest of Mali.
VOA’s French to Africa Service currently broadcasts to Mali on shortwave, FM, TV, and online. It will provide news by SMS to Mali later this year to offer breaking news to mobile phone users in the most cost-efficient way possible.