Uncertainty looms over AIR’s primary channels in TN, Puducherry

The AIR Madurai team behind the COVID-19 awareness programme.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Prasar Bharati’s decision to convert four primary radio channels in Tamil Nadu and Puduchery radio station into relay stations of AIR, Chennai, is causing disquiet among the staff.

The order was supposed to come into effect from January this year but was stalled till this month. Sources said, AIR Madurai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli and Puducherry will relay programmes produced majorly by the Chennai station from next week.

Radio listeners, speakers, writers, teachers, students, scientists and social activists have signed a petition to the Prasar Bharati, the Director of AIR-Chennai and the Members of Parliament, requesting a roll back because they fear a uniform pattern and common programmes would kill the local flavour of the programmes broadcast till hitherto.

AIR Madurai’s Radio Science commentator for last 18 years, P Rajamanickam, told The Hindu, the primary stations started functioning independently from 1947 from Chennai and Tiruchi. Subsequently, the other four came up with an autonomy to generate their own programmes. It informed listeners about local events and happenings and other important announcements.

Each station produced their local programmes on women, youth, children, health, sports, folk, performing and other creative arts and promoted local talents. The radio stations also catered to needs of farmers giving them the weather reports, when to farm, information about about pests and control. For instance, AIR, Tiruchi covered the delta regions, while Madurai AIR did broadcasts on Ramanathapuram and Viruddhunagar during the same air time to give need-based and region-specific information to listeners.

“But now by merging the regional with State and central content, the purpose of radio to reach and meet the last local man will be defeated,” said Mr.Rajamanickam. “The move is unwarranted as the linguistic divergence and cultural flavour of the interiors will be lost,” he added.

A former Programme Executive with AIR-Madurai, said the move will reduce the workload as every station suffers severe staff crunch. But it will seal local recuitments of casual announcers who record and produce majority of the local programmes.

If the order is implemented, the daily production days for the five primary channels will reduce to allotted days as they will share the air time now. “As a result, employees will be laid off and the independent broadcasting system invested in will be wiped out,” he said.

According to another staff, a similar order was issued for radio stations across Assam last December but rolled back after protests by the locals.

The Tamil Nadu Science Forum has also urged the MPs in the State to immediately intervene to prevent the death of independent radio stations in TN and Puducherry and the listenership.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 6:04:29 PM |

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