Govt may allow FM channels to provide news through agencies

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The government may allow FM radio channels to provide news and information through news agencies and other sources in the coming years but for an initial period they will have to rely on All India Radio news bulletins.

Information and Broadcasting Secretary Uday Kumar Varma told this to a gathering of representatives from the radio industry at an event organised by the CII here.

"We begin with AIR and then we go and start allowing more and more news... I do foresee that in next five-seven years time, the things happening the way we expect them to happen, then there is nothing stopping radio to have news," he said.

He was responding to a question as to why the government did not allow radio channels to use news feed of recognised agencies.

Varma said that though news was not currently allowed, radio channels still provided cricket scores and often radio jockeys also commented on current events.

He further said that the expansion of radio through FM Phase III is on the top priority of the government and it had been decided that an ascending e-auction would be conducted.

Varma said that there were issues like choosing an auctioneer, migration fee and a TRAI report which suggested reducing channel spacing for radio channels had to resolved.

He said that the expansion of FM radio in border areas and interiors was also a priority of the government which they would relentlessly pursue.

He refused to subscribe views of some members of the radio industry that the industry was facing difficult times.

"If 10 to 12 per cent growth is what we call a bleak dark phase of an industry, I would like to know what percentage of growth they expect to say that industry is growing well," Varma said.

He said that his ministry was willing to work along with the industry and added that during phase I of the cable sector digitisation, not many people expected the government to succeed but it happened because of the cooperation of the industry.

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