FM Phase III: Industry slams AIR-tailored news for FM radio

There is already a debate rising over news and current affairs on private FM stations, with FM players expressing dismay over the Government’s plans to allow only AIR-controlled news snippets.

e4m by Nitin Pandey
Updated: Mar 29, 2011 9:33 AM
FM Phase III: Industry slams AIR-tailored news for FM radio

The Government, which is soon going to introduce the third phase of FM expansion in the country, is planning to prepare 2-minute news capsules for private FM channels. All India Radio, the Government-controlled radio body, will prepare the news snippets for those private FM stations, who are willing to put news ‘On Air’ through their channels.

Speaking at the Radio Congress 2011, organised by the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) on March 28, 2011, Rajiv Takru, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), stated, “Specially designed news capsules will be made for those FM channels who want to broadcast the news through their channels.”

He added that the news would have to be carried as it was, without any changes. “The news capsule, prepared by AIR, will be allowed to go ‘unaltered’,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, industry experts present at the Radio Congress have reacted strongly to this announcement from the Government. G Krishnan, CEO, TV Today, said, “I am shocked on this announcement from the Government. We are not asking for alms (Hum Bheekh Nahi Mang Rahe). It is not fair that the Government planning to give private FM players readymade news. If the Government can give licences to private news channels, why is free flow of news not allowed on private FM channels?”

Along similar lines, Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City, stated, “We are not asking for any concessions from the Government. We want the Government to allow us to act freely.”

Meanwhile, unlike the first two phases, for Phase III, the Government is considering e-auction mechanism for FM licences. “The advantage of this would be that nobody can influence the process in any way,” stated Takru. He also noted that Government had proposed special offers and incentives for the radio companies who were willing to operate in border areas like Jammu & Kashmir and the North-Eastern states.

In Phase III of FM expansion, 300 new towns will come under the cover of private FM channels and also, 800 new frequencies will be allotted by the Government. At present, 245 FM channels are operational in 85 cities in the country.

Takru informed that the FM Phase III proposal was on the final stage, and they should be able to have a final view taken by the Government in the next 2-3 months.

Meanwhile several important issues pertaining to the radio industry were taken up at the day-long Radio Congress. The second edition of the Congress was inaugurated with a welcome address by Anurradha Prasad, Chairman, AROI. The conference saw the participation of a number of industry stalwarts, including Prabhu Chawla, News Director, The New Indian Express; Raj Nayak; Prashant Pandey, CEO, Radio Mirchi; Rahul Gupta, Director, Dainik Jagran; Jaideep Ghosh, Executive Director, KPMG; Sunil Dahiya, MD, Vigneshwara Developers; Harish Bhatia, CEO, My FM; and Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison India, among others.

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