100 more community radio stations soon, says Smriti Irani

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New Delhi, May 10 (IANS) The Central government on Thursday said it has planned to set up at least 100 more community radio stations across the country in 2018.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani made the announcement at the 15th Asia Media Summit here, in which 228 delegates from 39 countries are taking part.

“We have a vibrant community radio system in our country, with 215 community radio stations in operation and 100 more in the pipeline,” Irani said.

In its endeavour to encourage the community radio movement in the country, the Minister said, the government had increased subsidies for setting up community radio stations from 50 per cent to 90 per cent for the northeastern states and 75 per cent in other states subject to a maximum limit of Rs 7.5 lakh.

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She said: “The time has come to put laws, ethics and rules into place which will help in balancing the media industry, so that one dominant player doesn’t rule the roost.”

According to her, the power of radio in today’s digitised world is such that the Prime Minister reaches out to every citizen through his programme “Mann Ki Baat” which is transmitted simultaneously in 24 languages and reaches around 86.88 per cent of the population.

In the inaugural session of the three-day event, the Minister said the media industry had a great role in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“While the direct estimated impact of our media industry is close to Rs 1.35 lakh crore, but if you look at the indirect and induced benefits, our media industry today has an output of Rs 4.5 lakh crore which amounts to 2.9 per cent of India’s GDP with close to four million people associated with it.

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“It is one of the fastest growing advertising markets, expected to touch 10.59 billion dollars by the end of 2018 and the mobile spend is estimated to grow to 1.55 billion dollars in 2019,” Irani said.

Talking about government’s interventions and how the government was supporting the media industry in India, Irani said: “The FDI limit has been increased to 100 per cent in our cable and DTH satellite platforms.”

“Today, we have close to 323 FM channels operational in our country. And, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have just paved the way for the auction of 363 channels now in 236 cities in the subsequent batches this year.”

Over the emerging media scenario, Irani said that India is poised to have over 969 million internet users. “The media has become consumer centric. That is one of the changes that the digital industry has brought into the media field.”

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