The Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL) has proposed to the I&B Ministry a framework to monitor the content of the over 300 FM radio stations in 91 cities that are expected to be operational within a year’s time.
According to the proposal, BECIL will set up a monitoring facility in all the 91 cities where the local executive will coordinate, monitor and report about the content and advertising pattern of the broadcasters to the Delhi head office, which will analyse and take necessary action in case of any code violation.
The basic objective of the monitoring body, according to BECIL, will be to guard cultural and social harmony, advertising and programming code adherence, honouring of regulatory and legal norms, and adherence of technical parameters of transmission.
BECIL has estimated the capital expenditure on the project in each city to be around Rs 1.25 lakh. It has also suggested collecting operation fees of Rs 25,000 in each city to be shared among all the broadcasters in the city.
Speaking about the proposal, BECIL MD, K P Verma, told exchange4media, “Some mechanism to monitor the FM radio stations has to be there to observe who is putting what information and whether the broadcasters are complying with the law of the land or not. BECIL, on its part, has come out with a set of proposals and a final decision has to be taken by the Ministry.”
When contacted, an official of the newly formed Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) said, “Though the radio players are aware of it, nobody thinks BECIL has the expertise to monitor content of FM radio stations.” When queried about the same, Verma countered by saying, “We are already placing programming heads for Doordarshan. So we know the people who can handle such monitoring of FM radio stations.”
When asked whether the operational cost of Rs 25, 000 per month would be an additional burden on the broadcasters, especially to the players in D category cities, Verma said, “We are open to looking into that aspect.”
After the FM Phase II bidding process, now BECIL is carrying out the work of setting up of transmitters at various locations. Asked about how long it would take to complete the process, Verma said, “It will take up to 12 months because the manufacturers are facing a problem meeting the huge demand for technical equipment for the FM Phase II expansion.”
Several FM players have expressed their concern over the tardy way BECIL is moving in this direction.
Verma further said that players in the four metros as well as in Hyderabad and Jaipur had been allowed to set up their own infrastructure and start their operations. “They can start their operations as early as April if they so wish” – the catch being, once BECIL sets up its own infrastructure, they will have to use it.