Information & Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma has stated that his Ministry is considering launching a 24-hour news channel on AIR along the lines of DD News. Addressing a meeting in Amritsar with Punjab-based heads of various media units of I&B, Varma said “The Government is exploring various aspects and the technicalities involved in launching a 24-hour news channel on All India Radio.”
The I&B Secretary reviewed the existing status of transmission of AIR and DDK in the border areas, and discussed in detail the progress of digitisation of AIR and DDK. Varma said that the Government has evolved a programme, wherein transmission facilities in border areas will be adequately strengthened. He stated that to achieve this end, sufficient funds have been earmarked in the 12th Plan. He observed that digitisation is taking place successfully and rapidly in India as compared to the US, the UK, and China, which took them 10 years to 15 years to accomplish this task. Varma expressed confidence that digitisation of transmission signals will completely change the broadcasting scenario in the country within the next couple of years.
Stressing the officers to improve the quality and content of their programs, Secretary underlined the need for evolving a system of getting feedback from the masses to ascertain and assess people’s reception and response to such programs. He directed the DD authorities to explore the possibility of introducing a toll free number on which viewers, cutting across national borders, could directly voice their opinion. He also instructed the AIR officers to explore the feasibility of relaying Vividh Bharati Program on FM Rainbow during its non-broadcast slots.
Reacting to certain reports on monopoly by certain private cable TV operators, I&B Secretary said the matter stands already referred to TRAI for rendering its legal opinion on the issue. Speaking about Prasar Bharati, he said to determine and define the relations between the Government and the Prasar Bharati an Expert Committee, under the Chairmanship of Sam Pitroda has been set up. He said process to fill vacancies in Prasar Bharati has already been initiated. He added that the Government will fully bear the burden of salaries and so on of all employees for the next five years who were in AIR or DD till 2007.
Varma also reviewed the functioning of PIB and DFP in the State and assured to address their functional difficulties.