The Information and Broadcasting Minister, Jaipal Reddy, announced that the bidding process for 336 private FM radio stations would start from next week. Addressing the Indian Magazine Summit organised by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in the Capital on July 29, the Minister said that expansion of radio was going to be an exciting phenomenon.
“While most believe that private FM could pose to be a threat to All India Radio, this will not be the case. By this move AIR will be further exposed to competition, which is a healthy sign and will promote quality and avoid standard development of radio,” Reddy said.
The Minister further said that although television and radio were booming sectors, this did not mean that it would have an adverse effect on the print medium. “Research has indicated that those who see television channels also read dailies as it whets their appetite for more news,” he pointed out.
Reddy, however, stressed that the medium should stick to its job and enjoy the strengths it had. “Most newspapers are now imitating television channels. This should be avoided. Also there is a need for media to focus on serious journalism, concentrating on women’s issues, rural issues. etc, and avoid ‘tabloid culture’,” he maintained.
Reddy added that the government had been quite liberal with the media in India and all policy decisions were in tune with global trends. Earlier in June, at the exchange4media Conclave 2005, Reddy had announced that the I&B Ministry would be unveiling the second phase of private FM radio policy. The minister had also said that the way would be cleared for foreign newspapers to publish facsimile editions in India, wherein they could enter via the FII route or the 100 per cent route.
To enable Indian newspapers to withstand competition from foreign newspapers, Reddy had said that the ceiling on content syndication would be raised from 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent, excluding the content provided by news agencies.
At the Indian Magazine Summit, the Minister reiterated that all these policies would take shape this year. He added that certain amendments in the PRB Act would also be taken up.