Amruthavarshini migration sets off concern over local content

AIR Bengaluru has given up FM channel Amruthavarshini as part of an effort to consolidate transmission and content.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

For classical music aficionados who keenly listened to ‘Amruthavarshini’ (100.10 FM) on Akashvani in Bengaluru, Monday came as a rude shock as their favourite radio show migrated to ‘Ragam’, a national channel. Local artists feel this means a declining chance to perform for the national broadcaster.

For, as part of an effort to consolidate transmission and content, the All India Radio (AIR) Bengaluru has given up its more-than-a-decade-old FM channel Amruthavarshini, and the regional music programme is now part of the multilingual Ragam. Content for Ragam comes from 14 AIR stations across the country, including Bengaluru. Ragam 24/7 is being aired for about 17 hours on digital and satellite radio, and on the Internet streaming globally.

Kannada content

While Amruthavarshini had a regional Kannada flavour, listeners had sought even more Kannada content, a senior AIR official said. “We are not sure about the strategy. Only channel shifting has happened now,” he said. He added, “Listeners are complaining about the disruption in a set music-listening habit. Some special programmes of Amruthavarshini will be brought slowly to the Ragam platform... The Amrithavarshini transmitter was old.”

Acknowledging that there was a “cultural issue” in migration to a national multilingual channel, the official said that content producers also had challenges to bring about a balance between regional and national content. However, the official defended the move, saying that being a corporation (Prasar Bharati), it had the right to decide the course of functioning as a financially viable entity. “Production of half-an-hour content ranges from about ₹5,000 to ₹30,000, depending on the grading of artist. Though we broadcast a mix and match of fresh and old recordings, new concert production costs involve a great deal of money annually,” he said.

The change in the platform has come as a jolt to nearly 3,000 empanelled artists of AIR. Bengaluru AIR alone has about 1,500 empanelled artists. It is learnt that with the change, an artist who, on average, was getting a programme once in three months is unlikely to get even one chance a year. “This is also because the number of artists is increasing by the day. How do you accommodate so many artists multiple times in a year?” a Bengaluru AIR official asked.

‘Global audience’

Meanwhile, in an interview to DD Chandana channel, the CEO of Prasar Bharati, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, said that the merger had taken place to provide a “global audience” for the artists.

“With limited resources, it made no sense to have two classical music channels. Streamlining of services was necessary. Nobody needs to be concerned that classical music will not be broadcast. Programmes unique to Amruthavarshini will be scrapped and Ragam will continue to carry this content. Local artists will continue to get their opportunities and they will get international audiences too,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy demanded that local programmes by Doordarshan and AIR should not be stopped at any cost. “It shows that the Centre is trying to ignore Kannada with the sole aim of imposing Hindi,” he said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:02:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/amruthavarshini-migration-sets-off-concern-over-local-content/article37080795.ece

Next Story