Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati will soon share news bulletins from All India Radio (AIR) with private FM channels free of cost, but with conditions, on a trial basis said an official aware of the developments.
The conditions will involve FM channels not altering news content, not playing commercials in between, the channels can’t carry other news and current affairs programs other than the unaltered AIR bulletins. The commercials which are broadcast during news bulletins by AIR will have to be carried along with news in toto. Moreover, FM channels will have to give credit to AIR for sourcing news. FM channels will also have an option to carry AIR news bulletins either simultaneously or deferred live by not more than 30 minutes. In case of deferred live, an announcement will have to precede that it is a deferred live broadcast the PB official said.
The move comes after private radios showed no interest in paying Prasar Bharati for airing AIR news. FM radios in India are not permitted to produce and air news bulletins. Prasar Bharati is hoping that the pilot programme, which will be launched on Tuesday, will help to expand the reach of AIR news particularly among younger audiences who are more inclined to listen to FM radio. A Prasar Bharati official said that the move will not affect its finances as public broadcaster is extending a service based on its responsibility to share news and views of public interest.
“Initially bulletins from the news services division of AIR will be offered upto May 31, for no fees on trial basis. Bulletins in English and Hindi will have to be carried in toto, in unaltered form by FM channels,” said another Prasar Bharati official on condition of anonymity.
As per the revised policy, private radios that are interested in carrying the bulletins will have to register with Prasar Bharati.
Since AIR bulletins are carried through the terrestrial mode and are also available on the direct to home (DTH) platform including DD Free Dish, a free of charge DTH platform; FM broadcasters will have to make arrangements at their own cost for receiving signals of AIR news bulletins.
Prasar Bharati has also specified that violation of the conditions will invite appropriate action and during the trial period, FM broadcasters may avoid broadcasting in disturbed, border and Maoist affected areas. However, FM channels are not enthused by the Prasar Bharati’s move.
Prashant Panday, managing director and CEO of Radio Mirchi said the channel has not yet decided to register, and not inclined to carry AIR News. “We have a fundamental disconnect on policy. We should we source news from AIR when we have our own news service? Also, why can’t we at least speak their news in our radio jockey’s voice?”
While it is to be seen how many broadcasters take up the offer, Uday Chawla of the Association of Radio Operators said, “It is a step forward and we look to total freedom to carry news in the near future.” (Hhindustantimes)