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Private FM radio not to be allowed to broadcast news: Govt to SC

MUMBAI: Reiterating its long-held position,  the government of India has deposed before the Supreme Court that private FM radio stations and community radio stations (CRS) should not be allowed to broadcast news & current affairs programmes generated by them.

The government’s position was revealed by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Rajya Sabha.

The government has cited following reasons for the same:

i) Broadcasting of news by these stations may pose a possible security risk as there is no mechanism to monitor the contents of news bulletins of every station.
ii) CRS stations are run mainly by NGOs and other small organisations and private operators, and several anti-national/radical elements within the country can misuse it for propagating their own agenda.
iii) Community radio stations also air programmes involving chats with NRIs/the local population settled abroad. These stations may be exploited by foreign radical organisations to broadcast fabricated/radical views of some of these NRIs, as due to paucity of funds, the radio stations would not be able to afford authentic news sources.

The FM radio industry has been lobbying for allowing news on private FM. Currently, they can only broadcast news sourced from All India Radio (AIR).

In a meeting with the then MIB secretary Sunil Arora in January 2016, operators like ENIL and DB Corp had suggested that they be allowed to create and broadcast news on their own.

DB Corp stated that monitoring of FM content was possible from a single point through internet and hence there should be no restriction on news. The AROI representative suggested that operators might be allowed to collect news info from ANI, PTI, etc. apart from AIR.