Friday Review » Music

Updated: June 6, 2013 16:41 IST

AIR cuts down on Carnatic music

R. Sujatha
Comment (18)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Carnatic greats such as M.S. Subbulakshmi may no longer be featured on AIR — File Photo
Carnatic greats such as M.S. Subbulakshmi may no longer be featured on AIR — File Photo

Broadcasts reduced due to falling revenues, say officials

It is the season of Carnatic music in the city, but not on All India Radio (AIR).

For three weeks now, AIR has reduced its broadcasts of Carnatic music programmes, baffling and irking music buffs. When FM Gold ran dry of classical music last month, regular listeners lodged complaints.

Officials at AIR in turn forwarded the ‘negative feedback’ to higher officials in Delhi. Though AIR officials empathise with the listeners, they say lack of revenue is the reason behind the suspension of the programmes.

Up until early November, Carnatic music programmes were broadcast at regular intervals all day on several of AIR’s bandwidths. Programmes aired on FM Gold from 7 a.m. were an eclectic mix comprising recorded performances, a slot for new artists and performances by stalwarts. During the music season, AIR usually broadcast recorded performances from the Music Academy. On the medium wave, it offered a slot for learning classical music besides recorded or live concerts.

“I have been tuning in to the programmes since 1950. The programmes helped develop my knowledge of Carnatic music,” said 75-year-old P.K. Subramanian of Nanganallur. “I haven’t been able to tune into to Madras ‘A’ station for the past six months. FM Gold, between 1.10 p.m. and 2 p.m., would broadcast eminent musicians like M.S. Subbulakshmi, D.K. Pattammal, Semmangudi and Ariyakudi,” Mr. Subramanian said. “I go to the digital library in Music Academy once a week, but I do miss the radio programmes,” he added.

According to AIR officials, the programmes were suspended from November 12. “There are changes in the pattern of programmes. The aim is to make FM Gold generate revenue, just as it does in Delhi,” an official said. According to him, FM Gold in Delhi includes talk shows, which are very popular among listeners and bring in revenue.

Senior artistes, however, were aware of the developments in AIR. Vocalist Vijay Siva said, “We knew this was going to happen. AIR started shutting its doors to us seven or eight years ago. They have reduced the number of contracts offered to musicians,” he said.

In an effort to ensure that the slots were not cut, he along with vocalists Neyveli Santhanagopalan and P.S. Narayanaswami approached the then station director B.R. Kumar.

“But he informed us that the situation was only going to worsen over the years as listener-ship is limited. Classical music receives the second lowest listener-ship, the lowest being programmes on cattle and farming,” Mr. Vijay said.

The good news is, FM Gold has retained two slots, including the 5 p.m. band, and the broadcast of recorded programmes from the Music Academy during the music season. The programmes on medium wave too, are being relayed, the AIR official said.

Also, Isai saral, aweekly90-minute concert held every Friday continues to be organised at the AIR’s office on Kamarajar Salai.

What would it take to keep this alive? There may be people willing to
pay to make this stay on air.

from:  Prabhu
Posted on: Dec 6, 2012 at 00:50 IST

Is art to be encouraged only on its commercial potential? Why can"t
the govt. encourage classical music at their expense?especially when
they spent crores (common man"s money) on feudal protocol of the so
called VIPs I will request AIR and the concerned power centers in
Delhi to redouble their efforts to support this art.FM broadcasts may
be they are limited to only big cities Bulk of the "
unsung listeners" live in districts.
Programes specifically targeted to this sector will be useful.e.g. the
the 9 to 10PM. in Podhigai can be attractive even in AIR broadcasts.
Again, most of the legendary performances yesteryears" artists, like
TNR"s nadaswaram can best be enjoyed only through radio.

from:  n.swaminathan
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 13:51 IST

The "listener-ship" is limited as the quality of this music is so abysmal that only the hearing-impaired 75-year-old-ships are interested in it. The contemporary pseudo-"classical" musicians don't even read Sangita Ratnakara, so how can you call this mouldy music-ship "classical"? Very few of the 17th-19th compositions have a high musical value; the rest will be forgotten just as the compositions of the 3rd or 4th century.

from:  Niranjana
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 10:24 IST

does a cultural programme need to generate money or is it the vice versa. cultural heritage is not commercial activity. now a days we think of only money not values.

from:  PVU KUMAR
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 10:23 IST

As long as Carnatic music remain understood by a very small section of
the society, it is bound to have lowest listener-ship. It is a fact
that Tamil compositions or even Tamil film songs with a high dose of
carnatic music are big hits among masses. So it is high time that
musicians think of ways to popularise among masses instead of thinking
that it is a thing of pursuit only for intellectuals. And, this is the
only way to preserve the great music tradition. Also, AIR should not
think of it as a source of revenue. It is their duty to help
popularise the music.

from:  Panchu
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 09:53 IST

Traditionally classical music like Carnatic music were nurtured by the
elite and the ruling class. Otherwise classical music would have
perished. The government of the day should also take it on itself to
play this role of patroniosing the classical. Earnings will come in the
long run. FM Gold should go by the motto 'Old is Gold' and not count the

from:  PRaja
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 09:27 IST

Seems like we are indeed copying the western culture and making our own culture look down the barrel...Hope the things on track soon :)

from:  deepak
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 09:22 IST

AIR should offer its airwaves for programming that can be produced and aired by interested
parties, for, by and of CM aficionados. This has to be of course not like the 2G scam, but within limits of reason.
A nation that abandons culture saying it doesn't sell displays a rotting soul.

from:  Sachi R
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 08:44 IST

I find most of the vocal recitals on AIR are unlistenable. While I was happy
to listen to any of the occasional instrumental recitals on AIR, whether
violin, flute, nagaswaram, I found the vocal programmes to be often
distressing, with poorly trained voices, or singers who had completely lost
their singing faculty. The problem lies in AIR's grading system which is
never updated or reviewed to weed out singers who can no longer sing.

from:  Karthik Bala
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 08:08 IST

It is pathetic that carnatic music is ignored in the guise of generating revenue. Generating revenue must not be the sole aim of AIR. They should broadcast more carnatic music so that listenership will increase

from:  varadaraj
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 07:56 IST

It was an arrogance to focus as if the carnatic music alone is India's music culture. All India Radio had been so far misused the the elitist groups to broadcast their music without respecting the tastes of the ordinary people. It was against multi-cultural fabric of India society too and it was anti democratic. So, it is good the AIR has atlast taken a good decision. Please note, I am not against carnatic music but am opposed to the kind of cultural dictatorship in allowing this music to dominate and pushing back the numerous other musics.

from:  Kumaresan
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 07:47 IST

Sad moments. AIR and Doordarshan have been neglected very widely. I was
a good listener of Aakashvaani till 2007. Love those days.

from:  Raja
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 06:57 IST

Man be self sufficient. CDs of all great musicians are available and one can listen whenever one wants. AIR now only broadcast programmes for rural listeners. Even that will be closed down for lack of listeners.

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 06:57 IST

AIR is not a commercial venture and doing service to common public
like rlys/public health and expecting revenue is totally incorrect.
as a govt. organ it is their responsibility to nurture the fine arts
like carnatic music and they should never expect a revenue out of it.
then in that case, they should also not to venture their nose TO DEC
CONCERT WHERE the entire music lovers assemble and enjoy.
when the private is doing fine on this front, then where is the
question of shutting the door for this.
let them close commercial/film music, or make a chamber music for
carnatic music lovers.

from:  s.narayan
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 06:34 IST

The whole idea of the government run media- be it radio or TV - is to
offer the public something they would not normally get through
commercial outlets because it doesnt maximize revenue. Examples are PBS
in USA , BBC in UK etc. If the only motivation is maximizing revenue,
then why have AIR in first place? Might as well privatize it!

from:  Ami
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 04:51 IST

I see a revival in classical music in chennai and around. Thanks to
patronage form several avenues including "THE HINDU". Why not AIR reach
out to sponsors to get this program running. Also they can have
exclusive package passes and tickets for Marghazi utsavam.

I believe there is market but what lacks is marketing capability. Hope
AIR understands this.

from:  sriram
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 04:40 IST

Carnaticmusic lovers are eagerly waiting for the music season telecast by Doordarsan and
AIR. Let AIR chennai and Doordarsan set apart exclusive channel for
Carnatic music lovers like telecasting cinema programmers
. Then only they can rate the listeners choices.

from:  Venkatesan R
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 04:14 IST

These days everything is counted in term of 'money'! If you have any
number of other 'values', they do not matter! This is 'Kali Yug'!

Thank God many of the 'old timers' like me( aged 82 yrs) will not be
living long!

from:  Rajgopal
Posted on: Dec 5, 2012 at 03:33 IST
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