Dec 3, 2008

Business - TRAI endorses government controlled feed for news on private FM

There seems little scope for private radio stations to broadcast their own news and current affairs, at least for the next couple of years. Recently, the government had agreed to let private FM radio operators air news items prepared by All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan. However, it had hinted that there was a possibility to allow private FM stations produce their own news in the not so far off future.

But that seems to be a distant possibility now as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has endorsed the government's view that the scope of news items should be limited to government controlled feed.

The TRAI endorsement comes after the government informed the regulatory authority in a letter that “in the absence of a regulatory authority with a localised presence, and any arrangement for monitoring the private channels and the sensitivities involved, it is not possible to allow complete freedom to private FM stations to broadcast news, even though the content may be sourced from authorised agencies as suggested”.

In its earlier recommendations, TRAI had suggested that FM radio broadcasters be permitted to broadcast news, taking content from AIR, Doordarshan, authorised TV news channels, United News of India (UNI), Press Trust of India (PTI) and any other authorised news agency without any substantive change in the content.

TRAI says that other options for the expansion of sources for content may be considered after three years.

It has also agreed to the categorisation of content as non-news and current affairs. Included in this category are live commentaries, weather, examinations, results, admissions, employment opportunities, health alerts and natural calamities. In these situations also, the scope of content to be treated as non-news and current affairs may be enlarged after a review after three years.