The Union government has directed private FM channels to not play songs “glorifying” alcohol, drugs, weapons and “gangster/gun culture”, warning of penal action including suspension of permissions.
In an advisory dated November 30, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which issues licences to private FM channels, said: “…some FM Radio Channels are playing songs/broadcast content which glorify Alcohol/ Drugs/ Weaponry/ Gangster/ Gun culture etc… the broadcast of such songs/ content is in violation of the AIR Programme Code.”
Quoting the All India Radio (AIR) Programme Code, the advisory said: “The permission holder shall follow the same programme and advertising codes as followed by All India Radio, as amended from time to time or any other applicable code, which the central government may prescribe from time to time”.
The advisory also cited a recent judicial note by the Punjab and Haryana High Court against such content. “The High Court of Punjab & Haryana has taken judicial note that such content affects the children of impressionable age. In addition, it gives rise to the culture of gangsters.”
The government warned radio channels of penal action if they failed to adhere to the code. “In the event of the permission holder violating any terms and conditions of permission or any other provisions of the FM radio policy, the grantor shall have the right to impose the sanctions for suspension of the permission and prohibition of broadcast,” it said.
On November 13, the Punjab government had issued a letter to the state Director General of Police, District Magistrates, Commissioners and Senior Superintendents of Police, forbidding public display of firearms and songs glorifying weapons. It also called for a review of all licences issued in the state so far within three months.
According to the I&B Ministry, there were about 381 private FM radio stations as of June 2019, operating across more than a hundred cities.