The Centre has been keeping a close watch on satellite television channels for a few years now. The newly-elected NDA government has also begun tracking the social media to find out what’s trending.
Now, the government plans to monitor content being aired by FM radio channels and community radio stations as well.
By September this year, the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC), under the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, will begin monitoring as many as 100 FM radio channels and 30 community radio stations on a real-time 24×7 basis.
The plan is to ensure that these radio channels adhere to the various programme and advertising codes laid down by the government.
“It will be the first time that FM radio channels and community radio stations will be monitored for their content. While monitoring FM radio channels will be comparatively easier, the real task lies in putting in place a mechanism to monitor community radios, given the fact that their reach is limited to a 10-15 kilometre radius,” a source told The Indian Express.
“To tackle this, we are setting up a system where content aired on selected community radios will be logged and transmitted to the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre through broadband in real time. This will allow us to listen to content on these community radios at the very moment that it is aired,” the source added.
To begin with, 30 of the oldest community radio stations are likely to be connected to the EMMC.
While there have been no complaints about any serious violations by any of the 172 community radio stations operating across the country, there is a view within the government that these stations needed to be monitored closely — more so because their broadcasts are limited to and exclusively available in small, localised pockets.
In his general budget speech last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an allocation of Rs 100 crore for a plan to “support about 600 new and existing community radio stations” in a bid to “encourage growth in this sector”.
Permissions to set up as many as 400 new community radio stations have already been issued by the government.
While the EMMC, located in Soochna Bhawan, has mainly been monitoring content of around 300 television channels so far, the government plans to add another 300 channels to this list.
Once that happens, as many as 600 of the total 795 television channels that are operational will be under round-the-clock government monitoring.
A team of around 100-odd personnel is currently engaged in monitoring the TV channels in eight-hour shifts at EMMC. Around 10-15 personnel are likely to be deployed to monitor radio content, sources said.
Against a budgeted Rs 4.94 crore in 2013-14, the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre spent Rs 7.17 crore that year. In the current fiscal, it has been given an enhanced allocation of Rs 13.75 crore, signalling the expansion in its work.