Prasar Bharati has revoked the merger of All India Radio’s Frequency Modulated (FM) and Amplitude Modulated (AM) stations in Kozhikode for now, after the move to integrate the two apparently led to loss of advertisement revenue in the Onam season.
However, it remains to be seen how long the broadcast will continue like this as the life span of the transmitter used by the AM station is coming to an end. Though the authorities have sought to replace the equipment, it is unlikely to happen as the analogue technology being used has become obsolete with the advent of digital machines. The AM radio station is available at the medium wave frequency of 684 kHz while the FM radio station, titled ‘Real FM’, is being broadcast at 103.6 MHz like earlier.
While the merger had come into effect in July last week, both the stations began airing their own programmes again from September 3. Sources told The Hindu on Thursday that the two had been among the profit-making ones under the public service broadcaster. The Onam season reportedly turned out to be a disappointment as the merged entity did not get advertisement revenue as expected. Many of the sponsors of programmes made their displeasure known as well. The decision to demerge the stations was taken thereafter.
Meanwhile, the demand to launch a new FM station for Kozhikode is gaining momentum too. Most of the other cities in the country, such as Bengaluru and Chennai, have two AIR FM stations apart from the MW station. There, the MW channel has been merged with one of the FM channels and the other FM station has been retained. In Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, there is only one FM station each. Apart from the technological feasibility, high expense is also one of the reasons behind the Centre phasing out AM stations across the country.
The merger had led to widespread criticism from listeners. M.K. Raghavan, Kozhikode MP, had approached the Centre against it. Job loss for artistes and casual staff, lack of clarity on the future of programmes related to sectors such as education and agriculture that reflect the social commitment of the broadcaster were among the repercussions cited.