Describing it as a New Year gift for the border states of Jammu and Kashmir and North-East, Union minister of state in prime minister's office Jitendra Singh has said that the Centre has decided to launch 15 new FM radio channels in J&K and 18 new FM channels in eight north-eastern states.
Out of the 15 new FM channels to be launched in J & K, three each will be in Kathua and Bhaderwah respectively. Of the remaining 9 channels, 3 each will be in Kargil, Leh and Poonch.
In the north-east, 3 channels each will be launched in the six towns of Hablong and Dubhari in Assam, Jowal in Meghalaya, Lung-lei in Mizoram, Mokukchung in Nagaland and Belonia in Tripura. This is in addition to the existing 12 FM channels which are already functional in the north-east.
Singh said the new channels are being launched with the special objective of extending the reach and impact of radio to the border areas, where other means of telecast or broadcast are not available.
Radio is still the most easily available and convenient medium of broadcast even in such peripheral areas where television telecast is not accessible and the added advantage is that radio broadcast can be tuned even without electricity, he observed.
The government has a special consideration for these states, said Singh and added that it is evident from the fact that the cutoff population required for introducing an FM channel has been drastically reduced in case of these border areas.
Singh said, as minister for development of north eastern region (DoNER) as well as an MP from Jammu & Kashmir, he has also urged upon the concerned ministries to install these proposed channels with a higher frequency compared to the already existing channels so that they can counter the aggressive frequency broadcasts from across the border, that is, from Pakistan in case of Jammu & Kashmir and from Bangladesh in case of north-eastern states. These channels may however, not be permitted to put out their own news broadcasts and in case the news has to be broadcast, it will be taken from the All India Radio (Akaashwani), he added.