NEW DELHI: Disseminating news can be a costly business, All India Radio learnt the hard way. Unable to bear the cost of providing free SMS news service to consumers, the AIR discontinued the service on Tuesday.
Started in 2013 during the UPA regime, the current government had extended the service to cover 16 languages in all so that correct news reached people. However, as the bill cost Rs 10 crore last year, the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati decided to shut it.
A senior Prasar Bharati official said a review of the "cost effectiveness" of the SMS service had pointed to the need for its discontinuation as more viable alternatives, like a mobile newsapp, are available.
"It was felt the cost incurred on this service at Rs 10 crore per year was quite huge, so we have decided to discontinue it. A lot of people already access AIR news through its mobile app," the senior official said.
The official added that the AIR website is another digital platform which also provides news.
The SMS service was launched in English on September, 2013, to provide AIR News on mobile handsets free of cost. By September 2014, its database had increased to three lakhs, currently rose several times as it was marketed by the AIR.
The SMS service was given in languages like English, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Dogri, Nepali, Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, Odia, Bengali, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Arunachali.
Under this service important headlines of 2/3 major bulletins are sent daily free of cost through SMS in languages opted by the subscribers.
The news SMS originated from the Delhi and contained a mix of national, regional, international, business and sports items.
Ironically, while extending the service to other languages, the government had remarked that it was anm initiative to achieve Prime Minister’s vision of‘Digital India’, and added that it would achieve vision of ‘Communicating India’. Communicating India was an important component of an outreach mechanism so as to enable the flow of quality information to the people across platforms, the then Information and Broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar had said in 2014.