If the government does not step in with funds for All India Radio, Chennai to digitise its 25,000 recordings, generations of listeners will miss out on an invaluable part of musical and literary history.

The station’s archives may be a collector’s envy, but the government does not seem to be taking much pride in its possession, going by the lack of resources available to preserve them.

While Prasar Bharathi has released some recordings, there are many more that are waiting to be released. The station has digitised only a fraction of its recordings so far — barely 700 hours of a total of 13,000 hours. The rest of the recordings, preserved in a library at the station’s archive department, may soon fall prey to dust and fungus, and be lost forever.

Officials said they had converted some recordings into magnetic tapes, but there are hundreds of other discs of electrical recordings that they are unable to digitise, as devices to play these discs are no longer available.

In addition to a lack of technology, the station has to contend with the huge task of cleaning, recording, editing and converting the other recordings into CDs — a laborious process that requires manpower, of which they are short.

“Prasar Bharathi has priceless archives but what it needs today is a clear and well-thought out policy to share its collection for educational, research and entertainment purposes, as well as to preserve the collection for posterity,” said former director of the station, Vijay Thiruvengadam.


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