Prasar Bharati

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

AIR mulls shutting down short wave service

The Board of India’s national broadcaster Prasar Bharati is contemplating shutting down the shortwave service of the External Services Division (ESD) of All India Radio (AIR), according to a report in Sunday Guardian Live.

While a proposal to switch to more affordable internet-based radio service is under consideration, a section of the board feels that an exorbitant amount is being spent to maintain the current short wave infrastructure.

AIR began external broadcasting shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, with a service in Pushtu for listeners across the country’s then North West Frontier to counter radio propaganda from Germany, directed at Afghanistan, Iran and Arab countries.At present, ESD broadcasts 57 transmissions daily, with almost 72 hours covering over 108 countries in 27 languages, out of which 15 are foreign and 12 are Indian.

According to an official in the ESD, its total annual budget is $15 million (Rs 1 billion), out of which approximately $14.24 million (Rs 950 million) is spent on the maintenance of short wave transmitters and the rest on the production of programmes and staff salaries.While it’s difficult to estimate the number of listeners across the world, it does have a good following based on the feedback that we receive from people in Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

“The proposal suggests the shutting down of short wave and the service being made web-based. Since internet is far reaching, listening radio live on the web should not hurt our existing fan base. But of course there is the argument that short wave can reach even the remotest corners of the world, which is not the case with internet signals. The shutting down of short wave, without a doubt, will affect the propaganda value of India among its listeners abroad. Also, India’s edge in a continent like Africa will suffer a blow if the short-wave is to be shut down,” sources in AIR told Sunday Guardian Live.

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