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Govt has taken measures to strengthen economic model of AIR: Rathore

NEW DELHI: For improving the quality of programmes and creating a self-sustained economic model, All India Radio (AIR) has taken several measures.

The reach of FM coverage has increased and is presently available to about 47% of total population. FM radio broadcast for Vividh Bharati in all four metro cities has also been started.

Second, AIR disseminates news through its multiple-platforms, ensuring its availability to 99.20% population and 92.76% geographical area of India.

Rajyavardhan Singh RathoreThird, AIR has already digitised its 98 studios by replacing production/reproduction equipment and by installing computer-based recording systems. This has improved production and reproduction quality of programmes and increased storage capacity. Additionally, digitisation of 29 studios has also been approved under the 12th plan.

Fourth, AIR has replaced its outlived 36 MW/SW transmitters by new solid-state transmitters (Digital Radio Mondiale), which can broadcast in digital form as well. The coverage areas and quality of broadcast of these transmitters have been restored. Additionally, six high-power transmitters (HPT) providing coverage in Naxal-affected areas have been approved for replacement by new solid-state digital-ready transmitters.

Fifth, 127 new state-of-art technology microwave links (for sending programmes from studio to transmitter) have been approved for installation.

Lastly, AIR has taken up a mega project called ‘Sanskar Geet’ that encompasses the new genres of folk music of different forlorn areas. This has given a novel dimension to the pubcaster.

However, a self-sustained economic model is not entirely possible for AIR as it has to perform as per its mandate under the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990. Being a public broadcaster, it cannot undertake all activities from commercial motives only and hence there will always be a gap between operational expenditure and revenues, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore informed the Rajya Sabha.

To serve its mandate effectively, AIR is partially funded through government grant-in-aid. For meeting its entire operational expenses, funding is met from internal resources of Prasar Bharati. This arrangement is on similar lines as funding to public broadcasters, the world over, where bulk of the funding support is met by the government, securing the broadcasters from the vagaries of market forces, Rathore stated.