I&B ministry gives green signal for FM stations to air news

Are you late for office or slipped your daily dose of stock movements. Don’t fuss and put not yet payable stress on your grey cells, for now you can know the stock motions while driving. Confused?

The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has given its green signal for the FM radio stations to broadcast news on their stations across the country.

From December 01, 2008, not only the stock movement, but one can also tune in to the latest happenings in the business and political world, with just a flick of the radio channel. The ministry has given a go-ahead for 261 FM channels to air news and current affairs programmes produced by All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan.

TRAI has earlier suggested that FM radio broadcasters should be permitted to broadcast news using content from AIR, DD and other authorised news channels. It has recommended that to sustain the growth evinced in FM Radio sector, major policy decisions should be taken and these include allowing FM channels to broadcast news under certain FDI parameters.

Ravi Shankar, former I&B minister, had once said, “In India, news sells like nothing other.” The big daddies of radio business are now all set to test the water to mint moolah from the news broadcasting.

According to Uday Chawla, secretary general, Association for Radio Operators for India (AROI), “We have agreed to the I&B ministry’s suggestion. The self-regulatory mechanism would be in place by October end to ensure fair news without impinging upon journalistic ethics.”

“Broadcasting of news on radio has a very bright panorama as news in radio will reach a larger target audience than television can ever even imagine. And at the same time, one can generate more sponsors and investors.” says Apurva Purohit, CEO, Radio City.

It’s not only the FM channels that will milk profits from advertisers once broadcasting of news on FM channels is in full sway. Recognised agencies such as AIR, Doordarshan, PTI, UNI too will also get a mileage out of this new development.

The decision of government to allow FM channels to broadcast news, might create a dent in the foundation pillars of the existing news channels, as they will also have radio channels to contend with for market share.

“No not necessarily. In spite of so many television news channel mushrooming, print media has not been affected even a bit. So radio news cannot t disturb news channels. Moreover, the new decision would help those people, who lack access to information, without any costs that are attached to the Internet and electronic media services.” says Tarun Katial, chief operating officer, Big FM.

Sharing his views, Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM, says, “Government’s intention to grant permission to broadcast news on private FM radio channels is definitely a step in the right direction. The news broadcast shall increase the listener base and lend more credibility, authenticity and trust to FM radio.”

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