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 Friday, 20 December, 2002, 14:37 GMT
Indian students claim the airwaves
Radio student Deepa Chahana training for FM Radio
Students and staff have great hopes for the FM stations

The Indian Government is to allow colleges and universities across the country to set up their own radio stations.

The decision has been welcomed by many universities as well as students - previously unable to get licences.

The government will not charge any licence fees for the new radio stations which will be created at a time when India is opening up radio frequencies for the private sector.

All India Radio: Faces competition from young upstarts
Organisers hope younger talent will be nurtured
Radio broadcasting in India began in 1927 - but it is now seen to be time for the country's university students to tune into something closer to their hearts.

Many people argue the time is right for new programmes, more listeners and new presenters - who would be starting their careers while they are young.

Permission granted

The university stations will be amongst a number of FM radio stations which are soon going to be launched with educational and entertainment programmes.

The Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister, Sushma Swaraj, said all universities, Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology and residential schools would be granted permission.

Apart from educational programmes... we will also be interested to air traditional and folk songs of the country

Professor SM Sajid
She said programmes in local language would help to tap into young talent, who would then get a chance to produce programmes.

These FM stations would be set up with half a kilowatt of transmission power which would be able to broadcast in a range of five kilometres.

These projects are expected to cost between $8,000 and $16,000.

Educational and traditional

Professor SM Sajid, from the project in Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia University told the BBC they have already sent a proposal to the government regarding the setting up of an FM station.

"Apart from educational programmes like academic discussions, we will also be interested to air traditional and folk songs of the country," said Mr Sajid.

He said the idea is to use the radio station as a supplement for academic inputs as well as provide entertainment.

Malhotra: Trying to equip students with radio skills
Suchet Malhotra already tutors young people in radio skills
Although there will be no licence fee the government said rules for running such stations will be outlined soon.

District authorities will keep a watch on programmes broadcast from these FM stations, which would be in accordance with the programming code of the state-run All India Radio.

Communication

A senior Delhi University official, Shyam Menon, said the university is in the process of preparing a project to set up a station.

He said, if implemented, the university will use it as a social medium where students can communicate with each other as well as an educational medium.

A Delhi University student, Reshma Thakur, said students will now be able to get news about what is happening in the campus.

One of the most famous Indian radio presenters, Ameen Sayani, told the BBC he expects these FM band stations to be very successful.

"Since these programmes will be without commercials, it will attract more listeners who are already tired of too many advertisements broadcast on radio," he said.

According to estimates, there are radio sets in about 105 million households in the country.

See also:

23 Oct 02 | Business
20 Feb 02 | Entertainment
19 Dec 01 | South Asia
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