On November 30, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported that CPI MP Binoy Viswam from Kerala has written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, alleging that AIR is closing down government-financed radio and television channels. The allegations were picked up several news agencies.
In his letter, the MP has alleged that in the meeting held on November 18, it was decided to curtail the programs originating from Kerala. “This new move by Prasar Bharati is against this principle and its very motto of public service broadcasting,” he added.
CPI MP Binoy Viswam writes to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, accuses Prasar Bharti of making concerted efforts to close down government-financed radio and television channels and says online mediums cannot be substitute for them— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) November 30, 2020
Before the PTI report, on November 12, The Hindu had reported that the Kozhikode, Thrissur AM stations might close down soon. The report suggested that shutting down the stations is part of a nationwide policy to cut down the functioning costs of the institutes. At some places, FM segments will be retained. The report further suggested that AIR has asked the listeners to use their web application, which won’t be feasible due to network issues. The machines at the stations are old, and it is not possible to replace them.
Prasar Bharti’s CEO denied the report
Shashi Shekhar, CEO Prasar Bharati took to social media to clarify AIR’s stand. Shekhar denied all allegations and called it fake news. “No radio station of All India Radio is being shut down either in Kerala or anywhere in India,” he added. Similar misinformation is being spread about the radio stations in other parts of the country, including Jalandhar, Gorakhpur, and Bhuj. These stations will continue to originate content in terrestrial, satellite, and internet modes.
Similar fake news was spread by vested interests claiming shut down of AIR stations in Jalandhar, Gorakhpur and Bhuj, all three of which continue to originate radio content in multiple modes – terrestrial, satellite and internet.— Shashi S शशि शेखर (@shashidigital) November 30, 2020
Shekhar further added that AIR is the only radio service that operates in multiple modes, including FM, MW, SW, Digital Radio DRM, DTH Satellite, and Internet, making it possible to serve the people in under-served and unserved areas.
While replying to comment under his Twitter thread where The Hindu’s report was mentioned, Shekhar said that two different issues were being mixed. The content from the stations will continue to be available. However, AIR has decided to phase out the obsolete modes of technology. “Phasing out has been put on hold pending to a review to ensure no loss of service to listeners,” he added.
Two different issues are mixed up here. Content from these stations will continue to be available while obsolete modes of technology are phased out, new technologies are enabled. However phase-out has been put on hold pending a review to ensure no loss of service to listeners.— Shashi S शशि शेखर (@shashidigital) December 1, 2020
After Shashi Shekhar called out PTI’s reporting, they clarified and said that they did not run a story about “shutting down the stations” but reported that CPI MP had written a letter to the union minister alleging the stations are being shut down. Shekhar replied to them, saying that PTI should have sought clarification before publishing the report.
Would have appreciated @pti_news seeking a clarification first before rushing to press. Thanks for the edits highlighting the clarification.— Shashi S शशि शेखर (@shashidigital) December 1, 2020
Action to be taken for spreading fake news
While replying to a comment where the user had suggested “Gujarat broadcasting from Rajkot, Bhuj, Ahwa (The Dangs) and other stations will stop, program staff will be transferred to Ahmedabad,” Shekhar denied it and said AIR had not taken any such decision.
No such decision has been taken. Action will be taken against those responsible for distorting and spreading misinformation.— Shashi S शशि शेखर (@shashidigital) December 1, 2020
He further said, “Action will be taken against those responsible for distorting and spreading misinformation.”
The news that All India Radio is shutting down radio stations in Kerala and other parts of the country is FAKE.