Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bye Bye to AIR’s Radio Networking on SW

-Jose Jacob, VU2JOS            
This weekend, All India Radio will end the broadcasts of its Home Service news service on SW which was used as feeder to its different stations. These broadcasts have a long history.
The Home Service News Services started in 1936, long before the Satellite era when different AIR stations had to depend on the SW frequencies and P&T lines for relay of news, national programs, running commentaries etc. originating from New Delhi, the station from nation's capital
In those days each AIR station had a separate Receiving Station with good communication receivers and antennas located away from their studio / transmitter   to pick up these broadcasts.  I had visited the Receiving Station of AIR Pune in early 1980s which was located in some rural area. There I remember seeing were racks of bulky valve communication receivers along with some big impressive antennas.
. In its prime time, several frequencies from Delhi and Aligarh were in use simultaneously. One service had a South beam, another East beam and another one was omni directional broadcasting news etc. in languages of the particular area. There were even Slow speed news in English and Hindi meant for small newspapers which was continued till around mid 1990s. Mostly 50 kW transmitters were in use from Delhi while Aligarh used 250 kW for these services. The local stations used to relay the news bulletins of the local language and other programs of the national program, commentaries etc. I remember very clearly that those days when our local station used to announce that news from Delhi follows, we could suddenly hear lot of band noise along with the news.
In the mid 1980s, Indian satellites (INSAT series) were launched and in 1985 all AIR stations were provided with satellite receiver terminals used for Radio Networking. From then onwards we could hear excellent quality of audio for news and other relays from Delhi. However, the SW broadcasts continued in parallel as standby link. Currently the AIR Home News Service is broadcast in 19 languages on SW from Delhi. Each language has normally 3 bulletins per day viz in the morning, noon and evening 10 minutes each.  There were several news bulletins in English and Hindi daily. Some years back, a few of these bulletins were regionalized. It was prepared and broadcast from the Regional News Unit of the station located in state capital and fed to Delhi and then rebroadcast via Satellite and SW.
At first upto 3 SW frequencies were in use for each beam. Later when Radio Networking became full fledged, in the mid 1990s, it was brought down to 2 frequencies each and later only one frequency each.
     The News Services division is located at the Broadcasting House in Parliament street, New Delhi. The new studio complex with latest technologies was started a couple of years in the adjacent building.
How the latest technologies made old things obsolete is a wonder. The Receiving stations of AIR has now gone into history books. Now a days we can find portable digital receivers in the racks of AIR control rooms. AIR News Services has the web site
However, the Delhi transmitters meant for the Radio Networking became aged but was not replaced. We could find them with poor or no audio, spurious signals and even wandering away from their original frequencies.
Now better sense has prevailed and at last AIR has decided to end these services from March 26, 2012 when 6x50 kW SW transmitters located at Kingsway, New Delhi is scheduled to be shut down.
I had the opportunity to visit these transmitters along with fellow Delhi Dxers Alokesh Gupta and C.K.Raman some years back during the AIR DRM show case programs.
Here is their time wise schedule (Target areas given in Brackets) for the last week of broadcasts.
Times in UTC – Frequencies in kHz.
0025-0440 : 4860   (North India)
0030-0040 : 7370
0125-0205 0215-0310 (Sun 0355) : 15135 (East India)
0125-0340 (Sun 0355) : 11830 (South India)
0215-0320 0330-0340 (Sun 0355) : 7235 (North India)
0700-0800 Nepali: 11850 (Nepal)
0700-0930 : 15260  (South India)
0730-0930 : 15185 (East India)
0730-1030: 6190  (North India)
1000-1100 English: 15260  (Sri Lanka)
1115-1140 : 11710, 15185 (East India)
1215-1315 Burmese: 11710 (Myanmar)
1215-1330 Tibetan : 9575 (Tibet)
1215-1430 : 6030 (North India)
1220-1310 : 6085 (North India)
1220-1841: 5015 (North India)
1220-1330 HS, 1330-1430 Nepali (Nepal), 1430-1930 Urdu (Pakistan) : 4860
1330-1630/1700/1730v, 1730-1740 : 6085 (North India) , 9575 (East India), 9835 (South India)
1. Besides News Services, the Regional Services from Delhi on 4860, 5015 and 6190 is also being dropped from A-12 season.
2. All the 6 transmitters are scheduled to be simultaneously operating at around 1330-1430 on 4860,5015,6030,6085,9575,9835 . However lately all of them are not heard.
3. Languages are given for External Services.
4. External Services will continue from other transmitters / sites from next day on same frequencies.
5. The final broadcast of different transmitters is scheduled on 24 March 2012 as follows:
1215-1430 : 6030 (North India)
1730-1740 : 6085 (North India), 9575 (East India), 9835 (South India)
1220-1841: 5015 (North India)
1430-1930 Urdu  : 4860 (Pakistan)
25 March 2012:
0030-0040 : 7370
However as it is officially scheduled to shut down on Monday 26 March 2012 at 0100 UTC ie 6.30 am IST look out also on Sunday 25 March 2012.
6. Other 2x100 kW transmitters will be still operating from there
7.Two new 100 kW DRM compatible SW transmitters will be installed at Kingsway this year.
Useful links:

(Via Jose Jacob, VU2JOS, National Institute of Amateur radio, Raj Bhavan Raod, Hyderabad 500082, India. Email;