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Will campus radio become a revolution?

20-December-2002
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Will campus radio become a revolution?

College campus in India will not be the same again. Why? Because soon there will be apna campus FM radio, a low frequency FM radio station. The Union government calls it the 'radio revolution'. Which implies that now the broadcasting medium will be reaching out to the ears of the Generation X. This literally means that all the universities, IITs, IIMs, and residential schools across the country would now be able to set up their own FM band radio station of up to half KW capacity with a maximum range of Five kilometres. And all this should cost somewhere around Rs 4 - 8 lakhs.

But what will be the content of the campus radio? The General Broadcasting Code which is otherwise called Programme Code for both AIR and Doordarshan prohibits the following:

Criticism of friendly countries, Attack on religions or communities, Anything obscene or defamatory, Incitement to violence or anything against maintenance of law and order, Anything amounting to contempt of court, Aspersions against the integrity of the President and Judiciary, Anything affecting the integrity of the Nation, and criticism by name of any person.

Given this straitjacketed code, will radio stations be able to broadcast much more meaningful programmes rather than just music or latest count down shows. And if that happens then we can expect our JNU FM station or any university campus to conduct a panel discussion on a topic say 'Gujarat: before & after Godhra', or any other topical issue for the benefit of students pursuing Political science or Journalism. One could imagine that there will be obvious references to communities, political parties and politics. There will be allegations and counter allegations. Which in turn will attract a good audience and if the programme falls under the sponsored category, then it will be good news for the advertisers.

Meanwhile, there will be no License fee charged for the FM stations. Only a spectrum fee will be charged, which would be paid to the wireless planning operator. Government believes that rules will be framed soon and the security clearance will be coming from the Home Ministry.

Going by the numbers, currently there are 133 AIR's FM stations covering 31.34% of populations. Apart from it there are 10 private FM channels, which are currently operational. The 10th Five-year plan envisages the setting up setting up of 95 new FM stations and the upgradation of 18 existing ones of AIR, which will cover almost fifty percent of the population in the country.

Ashish Sinha

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