A circular from the I&B Ministry has reiterated that the clause of Grant of Permission Agreement to FM radio stations was not being followed. It said that news should not be a part of any FM station. The Ministry, the circular stated, had of late noted that certain FM radio stations had indulged in news and current affairs related snippets.
The circular states, “Some private FM radio channels are airing news snippets and current affairs in violation of rules for FM radio operators. These violations have been viewed very seriously by the Ministry. As per the policy, news and current affairs are not allowed to be broadcast by private FM channel in any manner. The carriage of news snippets and current affairs violates the provisions, which have been incorporated in clause 1.4 and 23.4 of Grant of Permission Agreement signed by private operators with the Government.”
It was, therefore, advised that all concerned parties refrained from any such activities, which were in violation of terms and conditions of FM license, the circular added.
Reacting to the circular Rajiv Mishra, Convenor, Association of Radio Operator of India (AROI), said, “News is really needed and we had made the demands during the policy formation as well. There is no logic in refraining FM radio stations from airing news. Today, most radio stations do not have any separate genre and depend more on the same format – music. Inclusion of news would provide a separate genre as in satellite channels.”
“The FM radio operators have paid Rs 1,100 crore as license fee, but still the permission to air news has not been granted. If the Government feels that news in FM can cause trouble then they can monitor them because the news items are available at the stations for the next 90 days. If the Government finds anything objectionable, it can take action. During the Mumbai bomb blasts, the radio stations were of great help in keeping together the communities. We follow rules and only provide light news which are weather and traffic related,” Mishra pointed out.
Ever since the implementation of private FM Radio Policy in July 2005, over 100 FM stations became operational within a year and around 150 FM stations are likely to be operational by the year-end.