Private FM stations can use AIR news: I&B minister

Ministry to focus on both digitisation of content and archives

ankitalahiri

Ankita Lahiri | September 20, 2014


Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar addressing at the CII Big Picture Summit in New Delhi
Information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar addressing at the CII Big Picture Summit in New Delhi

Union minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar has said the ministry has allowed private FM stations to broadcast news provided by All India Radio (AIR). Emphasising that private radio channels should provide news capsules, the minister said in case they choose not to broadcast the exact news as handed out by AIR, the channels can source more news from AIR, which can, in that case, act as a news agency.

FM channels till date are not allowed to broadcast news, which is AIR's exclusive domain. FM channels are allowed to broadcast information such as announcements regarding citizen administration, and so forth, Javadekar said during his address at the ‘Big Picture Summit 2014’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in the national capital on Friday. 

Stressing on the issue of digitisation, the minister said it will be addressed by the end of 2016 since it will also drive prime minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious project ‘Digital India’. He said the third phase of digitisation would start by April 1, 2015, and would be completed by the end of next year, after which the fourth phase would be launched. A committee of all stakeholders would be set up to look into the issue, he added.

The third and fourth phase of digitisation is to be completed by the end of this year, and is expected to impact about 85 percent of the country's population.  

With the announcement of ‘Digital India’, the process of digitisation seems to have received a renewed thrust, Javadekar said. Commenting on the two projects, he said, “Everyone should have access to digital presence.”

Javadekar also announced the signing of a co-production treaty between India and China to encourage a high-level delegation from the neighbouring country to visit India. New Delhi has already signed such a treaty with 10 other countries.

The ministry also highlighted the launch of the national heritage mission, which aims to preserve the film legacy of the country. The project was approved by the finance commission in July this year.

The information and broadcasting ministry is also concentrating on archiving material that is available on AIR and Doordarshan. In this regard, the minister said, “Archiving efforts must also see, seek and speak to each other. They must be technologically compatible."

Currently, the ministry has about 6 lakh hours of archives, which is being digitised. Once the process is done, the ministry is considering transforming that to mobile applications too.

The situation regarding Prasar Bharati is a key concern with the ministry. Addressing the gathering, Jawhar Sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharati, said, “We are sitting on a huge reserve potential that we have not exploited yet. Right now, we are in the periphery, but we will be back in the centre.”

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