Allowing private FM stations to air news might have security implications: Prasar Bharati Chief

16 January 2017 Exchange4media

From democracy point of view, the idea of allowing them to do so looks "very simple" and "must be done", but given the diversity and internal security concerns of India, which also has thousands of kilometres of borders, the move has a "lot of implications," he said, according to news reports. Noting that new FM channels are going to come in as a few months ago the government had auctioned frequency bandwidth for a few hundreds of them, he said, "You need to seriously ponder over this (whether to allow FM channels to air news) before you take that step." While it’s true that private television channels have been allowed to telecast news and current affairs programmes, radio has a "different audience, different kind of reach and there are lot of issues about them,” he said in media reports. Asked if he was in favour of making All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan- owned by Prasar Bharati -- corporate entities so that dependence on the government for funding was reduced and there was greater flexibility in decision-making, he said he had heard that somewhere a group of government secretaries made that recommendation, but added that he did not exactly know what they had in mind. Prasar Bharati is an autonomous corporation established by the Parliament. "Once you take away AIR and Doordarshan, there is nothing left there (with Prasar Bharati). You have to repeal the Prasar Bharati Act if you want to do it," he said in media reports.