AIR swaps frequency of flagship channel

Employees question decision

April 07, 2018 07:55 pm | Updated 09:53 pm IST - New Delhi

Smaller cities too can access FM Gold with this move, says an official.

Smaller cities too can access FM Gold with this move, says an official.

In a surprising move the All India Radio is going to shift its flagship channel FM Gold Delhi which has been broadcasting from 106.4 MHz frequency for last 18-years to 100.1 MHz which is currently used by its Vividh Bharati channel without giving any reason for such a swap.

The employees and listeners were told about the swap last month which will be implemented from midnight of April 9.

No reasons given

“We have not been given any reason for swapping the two frequencies. But we are worried, because in 2010 when they made a similar effort, the idea was to sell the frequency to private promoters,” said Sanjeev Agnihotri, general secretary, AIR Broadcasting Professionals Association, a registered trade union of radio jockeys of AIR.

Mr. Agnihotri said letters on the subject to Director General AIR F. Sheheryar, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati and Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Smriti Irani have been unanswered. There was no response to The Hindu ’s text messages and calls to Mr. Sheheryar and Mr. Vempati on the issue.

FM Gold is only broadcast from Delhi and other metropolitans cities. But Vividh Bharati has a much wider reach in smaller towns. A senior AIR official said the swap is essentially to put FM Gold on a wider platform, since 100.1 MHz frequency reaches smaller cities.

The association has raised concerns that the swap could water down an established brand. “AIR can lose a large number of its listeners who usually know FM Gold through its frequency only,” Mr. Agnihotri added.

The move is perplexing more so because the FM Gold channel with its frequency 106.4 MHz was prominently displayed in the tableau of AIR at this year’s Republic Day parade.

Edge to competitors

In their letter to Mr Sheheryar, the association warned that move could give the private players an edge over the state broadcaster.

“It would also provide undue benefit to the private competitors of FM Gold who have been desperately vying for years to woo audiences of this leading infotainment channel of All India Radio. We would again like to remind you that in 2010 also some malicious attempts had been made to shift FM Gold from its well-established frequency of 106.4 MHz to a comparatively poor and inaudible frequency of 100.1 MHz,” the association said in its letter to AIR DG.

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