Sunday, June 24, 2012

AIR plans to up FM coverage to 90% of population

All India Radio proposes to set up 385 new FM transmitters in the Twelfth Plan in the country to increase the FM coverage to 90 per cent population. However, this is subject to allocation of funds and approval of the Planning Commission, Information and Broadcasting Ministry sources said.

At present, AIR FM reaches out to 41.43 per cent population and 29.18 per cent area. This is part of the total AIR coverage of 91.87 per cent area and 99.19 per cent population. Even prior to the 12th Plan scheme, FM Transmitters of varying capacities are being installed in 224 more places throughout the country by AIR, apart from 40 MW transmitters. This will take the coverage to 38.75 per cent area and 53.53 per cent population including villages and hamlets.

In addition, the power of 12 MW transmitters is being increased and 40 new MW transmitters are being installed under the 11th Plan. At present, 432 AM/FM transmitters are installed in the country. New stations are being set up in 225 places, and a total of 62 new Akashwani kendras were set up in the past three years.

A total of 276 AIR radio stations are functional in the country at present. A total of 278 more stations will be set up under the 12th Plan if the budgets are approved. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has said it is 'unhappy to note that out of the planned allocation of Rs three billion for upgradation of studios and transmitters of All India Radio in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, only Rs 18 million had been spent.
The Committee was not convinced with the reasons cited by the Ministry that delay in approval of Schemes only on 27 April 2010 delayed procurement and implementation of the project resulting in low expenditure. The Committee was "of the considered view that when the budgetary provision had already been made for the project, the Ministry should have set the physical targets, closely monitored the progress of physical targets and ensured full utilisation of funds in the Island".

The Committee took serious note of the above underspending and recommended the Ministry should take adequate measures during 2012-13 so that projects are expedited and funds utilised optimally during the current Financial Year. [ 20 June 2012]