One more reason to go for that cellphone with FM radio facility — your favourite station will be airing live sports 24x 7.
Be it cricket or Commonwealth Games 2010, the information and broadcasting ministry is set to propose to the Cabinet a change in the FM radio policy to allow live broadcast of all sporting events. It will cover all the existing 87 and proposed 280 FM stations.
The proposal, it is understood, is part of the Phase III of FM radio expansion. The policy will also allow 780 stations in 275 uncovered towns and cities over the next three years.
“The idea is to make FM radio a real means of wholesome entertainment, and live sports will make it more lively,” said a senior ministry official, who didn’t wish to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The move will give a boost to the industry by widening the programme basket, S Keerthivasan, chief executive officer, radio station Fever 104, said. “Sports attract a lot of listeners,” he said.
It will help the industry get a share, albeit small, in the sports broadcast industry said to be worth Rs 10,000 crore.
Most FM stations have expressed inability to break even in 10 years — their licence period — due to high operational costs and low revenues due to a slowing economy. “This will provide channels a revenue alternative,” the official said.
The note, which also allows FM stations to sources news and current affairs from Prasar Bharati, and news agencies Press Trust of India and United News of India, is expected to be submitted to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni for approval within a fortnight.
Association of Radio Operators in India secretary general Uday Chawla welcomed the proposal, but had reservation on limited news sourcing.
“The proposed limitation on carrying news only from Prasar Bharti is not understood… it will be against the spirit of freedom of press and free competition,” he said.