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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

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Govt open to airing news on FM

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, May 12

THE Government is open to the idea of allowing private FM radio broadcasters to air news, but will open up the sector only after looking at all the aspects.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, said, "We are quite open to the idea, but we have to see all the aspects."

Currently, foreign equity is permitted in news channels but private FM radio channels are barred from airing any news capsules.

Noting that a great radio revolution was about to happen in India, he said there was "scope for improvement" in the FM radio sector. The Minister said the Government would look into the issues concerning FM radio before the second round of bidding.

On television channels, he said the Government was all for self-regulation but expressed concern that the race for commerce was driving everything.

"I am all for freedom and creativity, but the creators of creativity should need to be responsive to the sensitivities o the people," he said, adding that a bottomline was necessary.

On allowing foreign news agencies direct access to Indian newspapers, the Minister said it was a "sensitive" issue that required widest possible consultations with all concerned including Indian news agencies. "As we also have Indian news agencies... it requires a lot of dialogue," he said.

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