The Centre has approved 33 new FM Radio Channels, 18 for the North-Eastern States, and 15 for Jammu & Kashmir. In North-East, 3 channels each will be launched in the six towns of Haflong and Dhubri in Assam, Jowai in Meghalaya, Lung-lei in Mizoram, Mokukchung in Nagaland and Belonia in Tripura. This is in addition to the existing 12 FM channels which are already functional in the region. In J&K, the channels will be lauched in Kathua and Bhaderwah, Kargil, Leh and Poonch.
Announcing this, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr. Jitendra Singh said, the new channels are being launched with the special objective of extending the reach and impact of radio to the border areas, where other means of telecast or broadcast are not available. Radio is still the most easily available and convenient medium of broadcast even in such peripheral areas where television telecast is not accessible and the added advantage is that radio broadcast can be tuned even without electricity.
Dr. Singh further said that this is evident from the fact that the cutoff population required for introducing an FM channel has been drastically reduced in case of these border areas. Elaborating further, he said that while in Phase-II, the cutoff population was minimum 3 lakh, in Phase-III it is proposed to be one lakh. In case of the 33 channels to be launched in border towns or cities of J&K and North-Eastern States, however, the population cutoff could be further reduced.
He also urged upon the concerned ministries to install these proposed channels with a higher frequency compared to the already existing channels so that they can better broadcast services in the border areas. These channels may, however, not be permitted to put out their own news broadcasts and in case the news has to be broadcast, it will be taken from the All India Radio (Akashvani), he added.