"The core issue at the heart of the task force's deliberation is
that everybody, including the private players, should be allowed
to operate in the sector and in such a way that it makes business
sense," a task force member and legendary radio jockey (if one can
use the modern lingo for him) Ameen Sayani told indiantelevision.com.
Though Sayani did not divulge the exact nature of the recommendations
that are likely to be made, he admitted, "Recommendations per se
are not enough, the government has to accept the suggestions and
work on them to make them effective."
At the moment, private FM radio channels are not allowed to broadcast
any news and current affairs programming and are also barred from
attracting any foreign investment, except FII portfolio investments
as per the reserve bank of India guidelines.
Still, some government sources indicated that the task force, headed
by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci)
secretary-general Amit Mitra, has indicated to government officials
that it favours a liberal policy regime that would help in giving
a fillip to the growth of the industry.
"Allowing foreign investment in private FM radio ventures with
riders and giving them some flexibility in programming where news
and current affairs is concerned are some of the areas that the
task force is likely to recommend," a government official said,
adding that it is also being debated whether the government should
go in for revenue sharing with the players concerned instead of
The task force's contention, while making a case for news on private
FM channels, would be that if All India Radio beefs up its content
in this category, as is being envisaged by Prasar Bharati, then
"news and current affairs programming on private FM radio channels
may almost become redundant or less attractive from a commercial
point of view."
It may be pointed out here that mere recommendations would not
solve the problems of the radio industry as the government has to
accept the recommendations and implement them through changes in
In the past it has been seen that high-powered committees had
made various suggestions, including ways to improve fiunctioning
of pubcasters Doordarshan and AIR, but the government had failed
to act on the suggestions even as those reports gathered dust on
various shelves in Shastri Bhavan in Delhi, which houses the I&B