In an interesting and path-breaking development, the media advisory committee, called the ICE Committee, headed by Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister TKA Nair, has recommended allowing 24-hour news broadcast on FM Radio stations. A final decision on the issue will be taken by the Prime Minister himself.
The committee comprises Sony’s Kunal Dasgupta, Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik, film director Shekhar Kapur, and senior bureaucrats, including the Information and Broadcasting and and DoT secretaries.
Speaking to exchange4media, a source close to the dealings, said, “The committee, which met on January 31, 2006, recommended that news be allowed on private FM stations.”
When asked whether it was a unanimous decision at the committee, he said that it had faced objections from the bureaucrats, including the Secretaries, but the majority supported allowing news on FM Radio.
The recommendation could not have been better timed when almost 300-odd private FM Radio stations, including the present ones, will be functional within a year’s time, thanks to the FM Phase II expansion, which received enthusiastic response from all over the country. The bidding for the 337 frequencies ended on February 3, 2006, with 279 stations being allotted prima facie.
However, it is apprehended that the recommendation might face stiff resistance from the I&B Ministry. Recently, in an interview with BBC Radio, I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had said that he was not in favour of allowing news on private FM stations for at least two to three years until which these channels would be put under constant watch. However, Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sharma surprised everybody by publicly supporting the cause in favour of private FM Radio stations at a recent function in the Capital.