Over 100 FM radio stations have already registered to broadcast All India Radio’s news bulletins on their channels, and more may come on board soon. This is a win-win situation for both the government and private FM broadcasters. First, the principle is being recognised that private FM channels need to air news along with the entertainment, film and music that they broadcast on a virtual 24-hour cycle. The aim may ultimately be to allow them to produce their own news programmes and bulletins, but before they are allowed to do so, they must accept that dissemination of news is a responsible business, more so in an era where fake news and propaganda are gaining ground, particularly in light of the American experience.
In a seasoned democracy, the presentation of news by the official AIR and Doordarshan channels shouldn’t be scoffed at. They present the hard news on events professionally enough, without having to take any but an unbiased view of a chronicler. The FM stations’ reach goes far beyond the metros today, and the presentation of the government’s social schemes can’t be such a bad thing if they reach a wider urban and semi-rural audience. Ideally, the private FM stations would also have to be allowed to present their own news bulletins as they do on television, even if they do so in a loud and gasping manner on issues of public importance.