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29 Jun 2004

Radio gaga

Posted by Just a little unwell in General | 12:04am

NDTV has started airing the audio signals of its Hindi and English television channels over Worldspace. After listening to it over the last few days, I knew what we have been missing - an independent media news broadcast on radio, which is free from the clutches of the government. While it is expected to provide information and facts, the radio has been used to feed propaganda instead, by successive governments.

As you may be aware, the airwaves are not thrown open yet to private broadcasters to air news and current affairs content. (why, why, why?) Maximum they can air is stupid Bollywood (and other 'wood') songs, with monologues by Radio Jockeys (RJs) thrown in for extra pleasure. Luckily Hyderabad hasn't started experiencing it yet. As people from other cities would vouch, listening to private radio stations is an experience of endless wait. Either you wait for the RJ to stop talking and let the song play, or when a song is playing, you wait impatiently for the damn thing to end, in anticipation of a better song. So, 'entertainment' radio stations are hardly that. Anyway, my point is not about lack of entertainment - we can find a thousand other ways to entertain ourselves (I wouldn't like to go into the details ;) )

My gripe is about not being able to receive news transmissions on radio from independent agencies. Well, I can switch to my TV, or read newspapers. Not a problem for me. So, what seems to be the issue? The issue is that a lot of Indians with voting rights are poor and illiterate, having no access to either TV or newspaper. The good ol' radio is the only source of information for them. And all they can listen to is govt-fed propaganda. They are kept in the dark about the corruption and misrule that take place, and who is to blame. The true picture remains hidden, coz the govt controlled All India Radio(AIR) is not going to give it to them. As a result, the citizen does not have the opportunity to make informed decisions. He elects Laloo Prasad Yadavs and Narendra Modis - the last persons who should be entrusted with power and responsibility.

Pasted below - the cleverly worded beauracratese that denies the Indian his/her 'Right to Information' (from a Consultation paper of TRAI):

Restriction on News and Current Affairs: The first phase of licensees were not permitted to provide News and Current Affairs. The reasons for such a restriction have been explained in the report as:
(a) FM mode is best utilized for music broadcast as contrasted with talk broadcasts;
(b) Security concerns in sensitive areas prone to communal/caste tensions as policing of radio stations is difficult.

Incidentally, the live up-linking of News & Current Affairs has already been permitted to Television and near live up-linking from even outside the Indian soil is a norm. However, it is also important to note that the medium of radio is different from Television in terms of reach. The ease of monitoring is much higher in case of satellite television as against radio, which is localized.

Reading the above, I'm reminded of the following lines from the Bob Marley song "Get up, stand up":

You can fool some people sometimes,
But you can't fool all the people all the time.

The 'consultation paper' has recommended that this restriction should go. I'm sure our netas are dying to follow the advise, and are going to implement the recommendations on a war-footing. Until then, AIR would be the only source of information and news for a vast majority of Indians.

Current Mood: Angry
Current Music: -

2 Comments | "Radio gaga" »

  1. By martiandevil

    29 Jun 2004, 1:04am [ Reply ]

    forget worrying about illiterate people, start worrying about literate. they think casting their vote belittles them. no wonder urban areas have the least poll participation percentage

  2. By JLU

    29 Jun 2004, 2:38pm [ Reply ]

    Hi MD, of course, the literate (including myself) should move it, and go cast their votes :) I was just posting about a different aspect that caught my attention. Thx for your comment.

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