The government may permit news and current affairs programmes on private FM channels after operationalising FM radio Phase-II.
After much pressure from the industry, the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) ministry has initiated an internal note for allowing news and current affairs programme on private FM channels.
”The thinking within the ministry is to explore ways to open the sector to current affairs programmes,” said a source in the I&B ministry.
It has been argued that a ban on broadcasting news is irrelevant, since it is allowed through private TV channels. “The government has an open mind and is willing to look into relevant issues, which would help in expanding FM radio broadcasting services through private agencies,” said a top-level source.
Sources indicated that any concrete decision in this regard would be taken only after the operationalisation of the Phase-II.
The successful bidders of Phase-II are required to complete various formalities by November '06 and sign the Grant of Permission Agreement (GoPA) with the government.
The FM stations have to be operationalised within 12 months from the date of signing of the agreement.
About 280 frequencies are to be operationalised in phase-II. The government had offered 337 channels across 91 cities to private operators through a competitive bid in January-February '06.
While, framing a new policy for Phase-II expansion based on the Amit Mitra-Committee recommendations, the government had turned down its suggestion to lift restrictions on news and current affairs programmes on security grounds.
The Amit Mitra Committee was constituted in the year '03 for Phase-II expansion of FM radio.