Thursday, October 16, 2008

Popularising amateur radio

The Coimbatore Amateur Radio Club organised a fox hunt here recently that sought to keep alive the interest in ham operation.
Organiser of the hunt R.R. Balasundaram said the event aimed at popularising ham operation, especially as a medium of communication during emergencies.
The hunt involved the locating of a ‘fox hole’ (amateur radio station) located within a 30 km radius.
Participants had to locate the radio station using the tone that came on their very high frequency radio sets every five minutes.
As for fox hunt, it could be fun and yet very demanding in terms of efforts to locate the station.
The hunt could get tougher as participants neared the station because signals could come from 360 degrees.
A press release explained that ham radio was a ‘scientific hobby’. One could establish one’s own radio station and talk to friends across the world. At the same time, ham offered a solution when all normal forms of communication break down during calamities such as floods, landslips, cyclones or earthquakes. This form of communication also came in handy during rail, road or plane accidents. Ham ensured proper information flow to the community during such incidents, when telephone lines were down.
But, a ham operator could not broadcast news to the public. One operator could communicate only with another operator. But, when many operators were involved, information would get passed on to the general public.
Amateur radio operators should pass an examination conducted by the Union Ministry of Communications and obtain licence for operating a radio station. Persons aged above 12 were permitted to appear for the Amateur Station Operator Licence Examination. No educational qualification was prescribed.
Training for two hours a day for over two months enabled people to take the examination. Interested persons should qualify in a test on Morse code (transmission and reception), communication procedure and basic electronics. Mr. Balasundaram said ham radio was a hobby and the operators should not use it as a means of income.
Coimbatore District had about 200 hams. Apart from being a hobby, the hams in Coimbatore provided a communication back up during motor rallies conducted by the Coimbatore Motor Sports Club. (Source: The Hindu)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I&B Ministry moots news bulletins in private FM radio

A long-standing demand of private FM radio players is set to be fulfilled by the year-end. After Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended news in private FM radio, albeit with some restrictions, the I&B Ministry has now reportedly given its nod to 261 private FM channels to air news and current affairs programmes produced by All India Radio (AIR).
Of course, the Ministry's proposal would require the signature of Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who is currently admitted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi following a cardiac arrest. After the Minister signs it, the proposal would require Cabinet clearance.
When exchange4media spoke to a cross-section of FM players and media players about the latest development, they were obviously positive about it, though most were not aware of such a proposal being made by the I&B Ministry.
Uday Chawla, Secretary General, Association for Radio Operators for India (AROI), remarked, "Having news or sports as an intricate part of content will immensely benefit the radio industry and listeners. The point of concern for the Government is deciding the extent to which the news broadcast should be allowed in this phase. In case Phase III gets delayed, we have requested the Government to allow the broadcast of news, current affairs and specifically sports in the interim."
'Value-addition to local content'
Reacting to the news, Tarun Katial, COO, Big FM, remarked, "We welcome this development as it adds richness to the local content on the local channel and would give a boost to the FM station. It would also create some kind of differentiation in the market. We have also prepared ourselves to fulfill these responsibilities and are planning to create infrastructural changes."
Vehrnon Ibrahim, National Programming Head, Radio One, said "After waiting for seven years, I think it is a step forward, though not a step we would like, but certainly a step in the right direction. I see this as an opener and not as a final position. I am looking forward for this and I welcome it and we are certainly prepared for news and current events. I suppose at some point of time we will have a self regulatory body."
Nandan Srinath, COO, Radio Mirchi, commented, "From the listener point of view, the product is certainly getting better. We at Mirchi are certainly ready and prepared to carry news and current affairs and look forward to this soon. If this allows greater stickiness of listenership and more audiences who are not using radio at this point of time to come into the radio fold, then there is an indirect bearing on the revenue stream."
Calling the move a step in the right direction, Harrish M Bhatia, COO, My FM, Synergy Media Entertainment Ltd, opined, "Broadcast of news will increase the listener base and lend more credibility, authenticity and trust to FM radio. Listeners will start taking FM radio even more seriously once news and current affairs are allowed on it."
Nisha Narayanan, Project Head, S FM, observed, "Diversification of content will be the direct implication of the permission to broadcast news in private FM stations. This will not only boost listnership, but also provide headway to advertisers."
Though Kunal Jamuar, GM, Madison Media, didn't see any huge value or even commercial implications coming to the industry, he added that "it will certainly give consumers a differentiated content. I don't see any major changes in terms of revenue".
Uday Chawla pointed out, "If you look at the TV industry, almost 15 per cent of revenue accrues to news channels. Improvement in content translates to more listenership, which translates to more revenue."
Tarun Nigam, Executive Director, India - North & Pakistan, Starcom Worldwide, noted, "The green signal to private FM channels for broadcasting news is reminiscent of the good old Akashvani days in the radio mode. Like TV has a bouquet of channels, radio, too, can witness an upsurge of players, depending on the license fees."
In contrast, Anita Nayyar, CEO, MPG, India, remarked, "Since the USP of private FM is music, the broadcast of news would result in dilution of programming and content. This is like the personification of AIR."
Is a regulatory body needed to monitor news?
Speaking on the need for a regulatory body, Chawla said, "AROI will welcome permission for carrying news and sports content and has offered all cooperation to the Government in this regard, including formation of a self-regulatory content control mechanism."
Radio Mirchi's Srinath added, "Since news and current affairs content would come from AIR, I don't see the need for a self-regulatory body. But over a period of time, we might see a self-regulatory mechanism."
Nisha Narayanan pointed out, "The FM players will not emulate 24-hour news channels, but to safeguard the interests of authentic news, a guideline should be charted out and should be adhered to."
The onus of coherent news broadcast is now on the private FM players. This proposal can be seen in the light of breaking clutter and pushing the contingent of journalism in the hear-hear domain. The development certainly has the private FM industry all excited. Watch this space for further developments.
(With additional inputs from Pallavi Goorha)
Also read:
FM players welcome Govt decision to demerge radio business
TRAI moots 26 pc FDI cap on FM radio; permission to broadcast news from select sources © exchange4media 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

AIR first Tamil news bulletin reader passed away

Noted theatre person and character artiste Poornam Viswanathan passed away here on Wednesday after a brief illness. He was 87. Mr. Viswanathan was known for his remarkable performances in Tamil theatre and films. In every role he played, he paid great attention to dialogue delivery and body language. He started performing on stage when he was 18. He later moved to New Delhi for a few years, where he was part of the ‘South Indian Troupe,’ with renowned critic Subbudu. Mr.Viswanathan, who worked as news reader at All India Radio there, deemed it a matter of great pride to have announced the news of India obtaining independence in the first news bulletin broadcast on August 15, 1947. He was transferred to Chennai in 1964. His portrayal of roles in plays scripted by Marina, such as ‘Thanikuduthanam,’ ‘Oor vambu,’ and ‘Kaal kattu,’ won him great acclaim. Mr. Viswanathan, who had acted in plays written by Sujatha, was deeply affected by the writer’s passing away this February. His powerful portrayal of characters in plays such as ‘Kadavul vandirundar,’ ‘Adimaigal’ and ‘Oonjal’ were hailed by the audience. His passion for theatre made him start a troupe of his own, ‘Poornam New Theatres.’ Mr. Viswanathan’s performance in films such as ‘Varusham 16,’ ‘Keladi Kanmani,’ ‘Aasai,’ ‘Mahanadi’ and ‘Varumaiyin Niram Sivappu’ are unforgettable. He was at ease in both comedy and melodrama. He served the Press Information Bureau in Chennai as assistant information officer and later served as editor of ‘Thittam’ and senior correspondent of ‘Yojana’ magazines brought out by the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry. He penned several plays and short stories. He was very interested in the fine arts and was often spotted at sabhas during the December music festival. Mr. Viswanathan is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.
Thanks to The Hindu