NEW DELHI: Private FM channels will be allowed to broadcast news only from bulletins of All India Radio, but the policy can be relaxed in future, the Lok Sabha was informed today.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said during Question Hour that private FM channels have so far not been permitted to broadcast news under the existing FM radio policy guidelines.
He said under the guidelines approved for FM radio Phase- III, FM channels will be permitted to carry AIR news bulletins in exactly the same format.
To a supplementary, he said presenters of private FM channels will be allowed to to read AIR news.
Javadekar said the present norm of opening FM channels in cities with population of three lakh is being reviewed and areas with one lakh population would also be allowed to have FM radio channels.
In his written reply, Javadekar said "in view of the dynamic nature of news, the policy is reviewed from time to time."
He said once news broadcast has been opened up, government can think of further "relaxation" based on the experience it gains on the issue.
Javadekar said broadcast relating to sporting events, excluding live coverage, live commentaries of sporting events of local nature, information on traffic, weather, announcement on civic amenities, natural calamities will be treated as non-news items "and will, therefore, be permissible."
He said the number of cities with FM channels will increase by March 30, 2015 when the Phase-III is rolled out.
He said discussions have also taken place to convert certain MW channels to FM channels as the coverage under Medium Wave is proper in some areas.
Earlier, members including Supriya Sule (NCP), wanted to know as to why government was against broadcast of news by FM channels when private TV news channels were doing so freely. She said news by private sources was also available on mobile phones.
Javadekar had recently said he has given "in principle" approval for broadcast of news on private FM Radio and a decision in this regard would be taken soon.
He had said representatives of FM Radio stations had met him and he had told them that he had no objection to allowing them to broadcast news.
According to the proposal, the FM channels can broadcast news, sourcing from All India Radio. However, the Minister said they can have an option of sourcing it from PTI as well.
"There is an option. We can give you an option. If you are taking it from PTI, it's an option," he had said.