The BBC Asian Network is dropping up to 20 hours of language programming a week, bringing to an end shows that are broadcast in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Mirpuri and Bengali, in the evenings and at weekends.
Some of the programmes have been there since the network started in 2002; but some hark back further. Radio Leicester started with a weekly Hindi and Urdu show in 1967, which was expanded to weekdays at 6pm in 1976. Radio London had a weekly show in Hindi and Urdu from 1971, till it became an English programme, London Sounds Eastern, in 1975. In 1979, Radio Merseyside carried a weekly bulletin in Chinese. In the late 80s, Leicester carried news bulletins in Hindi and Urdu made by the World Service. Radio Leeds carried language programming in the 1990s.
The Asian Network picked up all these responsibilities when it started; now the Executive and the Trust think, whatever need the language programmes were meeting, it's not there anymore. Initially, Sunday programming is unchanged - "the station will continue to showcase cultural content from individual communities every week across the Ashanti Omkar, Saima Ajram, Dipps Bhamrah, Nadia Ali and Parle Patel programme." Asian Network’s primary target audience, we are told is British Asians under 35 years old.