All India Radio considering shut down of shortwave service?

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

All India Radio (AIR) Headquarters in Dehli, India. Photo source: Wikipedia.

(Source: Sunday Guardian Live)

AIR mulls shutting down soft power short wave units


The Prasar Bharati Board is contemplating shutting down the short-wave service of the External Services Division (ESD) of All India Radio (AIR) even as a proposal to switch to an affordable internet-based radio service is still under consideration. A section of the board is keen on closing down the short wave service as an exorbitant amount is being spent to maintain the current infrastructure.

“The total budget allocated to ESD is Rs 100 crore annually. Out of this, approximately Rs 95 crore is spent on the maintenance of short wave transmitters, which includes the high cost of spare parts that are not easily available. The remaining Rs 5 crore is spent on the production of programmes in 27 languages, and to pay the salaries of the staff who are hired on a contract basis,” said a senior official in the ESD.

“One would expect to gain a large fan base after spending so much money, but this has not been the case with ESD. Since no survey has ever been done to determine the number of listeners, we cannot give an exact or even an approximate number of people who listen to AIR’s ESD channels across the world. But we know that we have a good following based on the feedback that we receive from people in countries where ESD is being listened to. Our listeners send us postcards or emails from Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, etc. But the following is not in proportion to the money being spent on this service,” said the senior officer.

“The proposal suggests the shutting down of short wave and the service being made web-based. Since internet is far reaching, listening radio live on the web should not hurt our existing fan base. But of course there is the argument that short wave can reach even the remotest corners of the world, which is not the case with internet signals. The shutting down of short wave, without a doubt, will affect the propaganda value of India among its listeners abroad. This is why there are chances that the short wave service might continue in neighboring countries like China, Nepal, etc. Also, India’s edge in a continent like Africa will suffer a blow if the short-wave is to be shut down,” said sources in AIR.

[…]At present, ESD broadcasts 57 transmissions daily, with almost 72 hours covering over 108 countries in 27 languages, out of which 15 are foreign and 12 are Indian. The Indian languages are Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. The foreign languages are Arabic, Balochi, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, French, Indonesian, Persian, Pushtu, Russian, Sinhala, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan and English (General Overseas Service).

Read the full news item on the Sunday Guardian Live website…

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10 thoughts on “All India Radio considering shut down of shortwave service?

  1. S. Ahmed

    It is always sad to see the once popular and famous short wave stations disappear. These stations served a very noble purpose when they did. They reached to the masses who could listen with minimum facilities. Very sad to miss these important sources of information.

  2. jay

    I am listening to the 500kw 9.445 transmission as I write. I am getting all web stations with better fidelity and most places in world today are wired for the web. Radio is dying .but technology growing so only better things can be expected.

  3. Tomas

    “Since internet is far reaching, listening radio live on the web should not hurt our existing fan base. ”

    I think they are quite wrong here, there’s an endless amount of Internet-only “radio” stations but not that many in English that can be heard all over the world on shortwave.

    They should stop using DRM instead, it’s dead in the water.

  4. Tom Servo

    Funny this is coming out now, it seems it wasn’t that long ago I was reading about AIR’s “commitment” to embracing DRM on AM & SW. I have to agree they are probably better off scrapping services aimed at developed lands like Europe and the Americas… But maintaining some token service to their own people in remotest parts of India as well as a service towards Africa where internet infrastructure is iffy would be a good idea. I’m sure they could significantly trim their budget just by maintaining one or two strategically located existing SW sites and using them for everything.

    Shortwave may not have the purpose it did 30 years ago, but it still has its place; it’s just that government need to be smart about who they are trying to reach.

  5. Keith Perron

    Shutting down the External Service of All India Radio makes sense. They have so many problems. Fixing them would be to costly and sadly the Indians won’t be able to do it.
    What are some of the problems?
    1: They have a very messy schedule. Some broadcast’s begin at 5 minutes past the hour, 15 minutes past the hour, 25 minutes to the hour, 15 minutes to the hour, 8 minutes to the hour.
    2: Announcers very often sound as if they are talking through a tin can. If you listen to the audio directly from the studio it sounds the same.
    3: Content is all over the place. You never know what you will hear and its just boring.
    4: We know India is a developing country. But if you go back 40 years, even Radio Peking (today China Radio International) never sounded so awful. External radio services from other developing and under developed countries sound better.
    5: Also they have no listeners. There are so many other sources for information on India that are doing a million times better than AIR.

    Also people might not be aware that over 90% of it’s budget is spent on shortwave. This is a huge problem. Radio Netherlands was spending around 40% of it’s budget on shortwave

    1. London Shortwave

      AIR’s schedule may be a mess, but their English broadcasts at the very least – however haphazard and disorganised – offer an incredible window into India’s culture. Apart from CRI’s well oiled propaganda operation on shortwave, I’ve yet to find another broadcaster that has programming of the same cultural significance.

        1. London Shortwave

          Of course, for those who can a) access it, b) already know that they want to look for it. Which excludes large swaths of the developing world where shortwave radios are standard household accessories.

  6. DL4NO

    In recent months AIR has switched back from DRM to AM, e.g. on 7550 and 9950 kHz.

    I must confess that this has been a gain: The DRM transmissions tried to use a 20 kbit/s transmission rate with two programs. This resulted in quite some interruptions. The audio quality of these transmissions was terrible: 3 kHz audio bandwidth (according to DREAM) with much clipping, hum and background noise. Their analog audio quality is much better.


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