Allow regulator, have FM news : Gov

The Government may allow FM radios to air news bulletins after the setting up of a sector regulator, according to Arvind Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Kumar, addressing IACC’s 7th Indo-US Economic Summit, said that the government was afraid that irresponsible reporting can have deleterious impact on the social and cultural fabric of India. There are many ways in which the content for the private broadcasters can be developed including customization of the bulletins by the All India Radio to suit the regional and ethnic diversity of the country.

Mr. Kumar said that broadcasting sector needs Rs 40-50,000 crores for its expansion in the next few years. Foreign investors, particularly from the US can invest in the sector. In this regard, he mentioned that the government is examining the proposal to increase the threshold limit of FDI in broadcasting from 49 percent to 74 percent. This he hoped will accelerate the flow of investment in to this sector.

Mentioning that there are over 600 television channels in the country, Mr. Kumar said that efforts are underway to digitize the operations. By March 2012, metros operations will be digitized and by 2015, the whole country will be covered.

Mr. Kumar also mentioned that the government is planning to allocate the FM frequency through the auction route. This will give more opportunities to private operators in launching new radio stations.

In the discussion that followed, panelists listed many grey areas in the protection of copy rights, widespread privacy etc. One opinion that surfaced out was that technology should be the driving force to plug such unsavory practices. Technology that produced internet also can produce torrential illegal downloads that are taking place through the medium of net