AIR External Service at odds with MIB over funding & future of shortwave service

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

(Source: Hindustan Times via Dan Robinson)

The external services division of All India Radio (AIR) is caught in a turf war between the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB), which runs it and the ministry of external affairs (MEA), which is expected to fund it.

While the MIB wants the service to continue and even expand; MEA has been suggesting shutting down the programmes, pointing out that the service offered through short wave transmission has outlived its utility and does not attract listeners abroad, said an MIB official aware of the developments.

According to this MIB official, the service, which was started soon after the outbreak of World War II has emerged as a bone of contention between the two ministries, as the cost of running the shows is high and the MEA has been unwilling to pick the tab.

AIR is a broadcast arm of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and anchors the external services division (ESD).

[…]On the need for the service, the official said feedback from listeners’ abroad acts as “eyes and ears of the government” and allows them a peek into perceptions abroad. “The short wave transmitters are used to send content meant to popularise and propagate Indian point of view on contentious issues,” the official said.[…]

A former Prasar Bharati official who had concurred with MEA’s suggestion to shut down the service told HT: “No one outside India ever hears Akashvani external services — over short wave or medium wave. It’s a waste of public funds. A few years ago as a test case we had asked a few ambassadors to give us feedback on the popularity of the shows; at least two wrote back saying that the frequencies of the programmes in their respective countries could not be found.”

This official went on to add that maintaining short wave transmission installation is a huge drain on the exchequer as they “guzzle power” and the equipment is “expensive to maintain.”[…]

Read the full article at the Hindustan Times online.

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