The government has approved 18 new FM radio channels in the eight North-Eastern states and 15 new FM Radio Channels in J&K. Announcing this, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh hailed it as a New Year gift for the border States of Jammu & Kashmir and North-East.
Out of the 15 new FM channels to be launched in J&K, 3 each will be in Kathua and Bhaderwah. Of the remaining 9 channels, 3 each will be in Kargil, Leh and Poonch.
In North-East, 3 channels each will be launched in the six towns of Haflong and Dhubri in Assam, Jowai in Meghalaya, Lung-lei in Mizoram, Mokukchung in Nagaland and Belonia in Tripura. This is in addition to the existing 12 FM channels which are already functional in the North-East.
Singh said the new channels are being launched with the special objective of extending the reach and impact of radio to the border areas, where other means of telecast or broadcast are not available. Radio is still the most easily available and convenient medium of broadcast even in such peripheral areas where television telecast is not accessible and the added advantage is that radio broadcast can be tuned even without electricity, he observed.
The government has a special consideration for these States, said Singh and added that this is evident from the fact that the cutoff population required for introducing an FM channel has been drastically reduced in case of these border areas.
Elaborating further, he said that while in Phase-II, the cutoff population was minimum 3 lakh, in Phase-III it is proposed to be one lakh. In case of the 33 channels to be launched in border towns or cities of J & K and North-Eastern States, however, the population cutoff could be further reduced.
Hailing this decision as an outcome of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s special emphasis and concern for these regions, Dr. Jitendra Singh thanked Union Finance Minister and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley for having taken a liberal view of the proposal and helped in the process of Phase-III FM Channels.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said, as Minister for DoNER as well as an MP from Jammu & Kashmir, he has also urged upon the concerned Ministries to install these proposed channels with a higher frequency compared to the already existing channels so that they can better broadcast services in the border areas. These channels may however, not be permitted to put out their own news broadcasts and in case the news has to be broadcast, it will be taken from the All India Radio (Akashvani), he added.