24-hour FM news channel of AIR soon

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) A 24-hour FM news channel of All India Radio (AIR) will soon go on air, as part of an ambitious expansion plan of the public broadcaster, CEO Prasar Bharati BS Lalli announced here today.

The decision has been taken in view of the increasing popularity of FM Radio and the competition it was facing from the private channels, said Mr Lalli while addressing the National Conference of Heads of Regional News Units of AIR here.

There was no lack of finance for these plans, but technical and manpower problems have to be looked into, he said.

He said that as many as 49 regional news bulletins had been started and plans were to introduce more.

Now, there will be a separate budget for regional news.

Mr Lalli said the public broadcaster was facing a lot of challenges in sustaininng public interest in its programmes while at the same time not overlooking the issues of public and national interest.

He said broadcasting was at crossroads today, as though there was proliferation of information, there was in fact drought of information related to the grass root realities.

''Now we have decided to make more public-centric programmes,'' he said.

Earlier, Dr P K Bandhopadhyay, DG AIR told UNI that the public broadcaster was now placing special emphasis on expansion of its regional news service.

''We were going to start news bulletins in Balti and Purgee languages from Kargil station of AIR probably from August 15,'' he said.

Moreover, a news on phone service has already been started from 14 stations and the rest of the stations will be covered during the 11th Plan period.

Dr Bandhopadhyay said the conference of heads of regional units had been called to deliberate on these plans, and discuss the problems and challenges faced by AIR in view of the increasing competition from the private sector.

UNI NAZ RR NS1856

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