| 21 Feb 2024
The ease of listening FM on smartphones will be the driving factor for expanding FM footprint: Shashi Shekhar Vempati

MUMBAI: All India Radio’s (AIR) FM can now modernise as well as expand its footprint in the remotest areas as well as border regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Indo-Nepal border owing to Prasar Bharati’s Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development scheme.

Speaking about the same, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said, “Primarily the focus is two-fold. The first objective is to modernise the aging infrastructure, studio, satellites. The second objective is to expand the footprint and that is where the FM expansion comes in, taking it to border areas and other interior areas, which currently don’t have a FM.”

On being asked, the number of new radio stations we can anticipate in AIR’s FM expansion scheme, Vempati told, “Right now, the scheme is primarily about the infrastructure, which is the transmitters, full-fledged radio stations is something that we will look at based on the need and ability to sustain. This is because if you see a large number of our existing transmitters, they relay content we produce. To look at our local content production, we will have to look at various factors and take a call.”

Vempati made a striking point, stating how FM has become important in current times and how smartphones plays a key role in the same.

“If you see radio listening has increasingly shifted to FM, while medium wave and short wave have largely diminished. The ease with which FM can be listened to on Smartphones makes it a medium of choice for a lot of consumers. Hence that will be the driving factor for expanding the FM footprint,” he said.

About 6 10KW FM Transmitters will be placed along Indo-Nepal and Jammu and Kashmir border areas. On being asked about the same, Vempati told, “Where the border areas are concerned, the focus is two-fold; one is bringing them within the FM footprint. Second is to ensure that content from India is easily accessible. So, there is a national purpose.”

Meanwhile, about Rs.1054.52 crore funds has been allotted to Prasar Bharati’s Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development scheme. While All India Radio expansion and modernisation schemes has got 435.04 crore, 619.48 crore have been allotted for both development and modernisation of Doordarshan. The scheme was approved by PM Narendra Modi’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).