Prasar Bharati’s decision to close the units to cut functioning cost
“Namaskaram. Akashvani Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Thrissur, Kozhikode…”. Lakhs of radio listeners in central and northern parts of Kerala are likely to miss this daily intimation very soon.
Prasar Bharati, the country’s public service broadcaster, is planning to shut down the Amplitude Modulated (AM) transmission from its Kozhikode and Thrissur stations.
The decision to stop the AM transmission from Alappuzha station was temporarily suspended recently after the intervention of A.M. Ariff, MP. According to sources, this is part of a nationwide move to cut down on the functioning costs of the institution and is based on a proposal by a private consultancy. The plan is to retain only the FM segments in some places.
A big loss
It will, however, be a huge loss for listeners, both young and old, who grew up on a steady dose of entertainment and information provided by these stations. For those associated with the Kozhikode station, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary now, it will turn out to be a moment of grief as well. This station has a glorious past with many big names in arts and literature being associated with it.
Officials told The Hindu on Wednesday that AM stations are not always looked upon in terms of commercial viability. “They always offer a blend of social and commercial messages. It helps the Central and State governments reach out to a large group of people, especially those in backward regions. Our programmes on agriculture, education, and rural development always have had an impact on lower middle class sections. The support we have given to educational projects in Malappuram district is a case in point,” they say.
Listeners have been advised now to use the AIR’s web application. There are, however, people who believe that this may not work always owing to network problems.
Technical experts point out that the transmitters used at these AIR stations are age-old machines that use valves and thus are outdated. It would not be possible to replace them.
Instead, Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) machines could be used. AIR sources, however, claim that the stations in Kerala are given short shrift here as they are not allowed to have such machines.
Those in Tamil Nadu (Chennai and Tiruchirappalli) and Karnataka (Bengaluru and Dharwad) have been given permission to use them, they add.
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