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Centre asks FM channels to ‘strictly adhere’ to rules mandating broadcast of public interest announcements

Centre has asked FM radio channels to “strictly adhere” to the rules mandating broadcast of public interest announcements, failing which they could attract penalties, a move that appeared to take the broadcasters by surprise.

In an advisory to all FM radio channels, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting underscored the provisions of the Grant of Permission Agreement (GOPA) and Migration of Grant of Permission Agreement (MGOPA) signed to operate FM radio broadcasting channels in various cities across the country.

According to the agreements, FM radio channels are required to carry public interest announcements for a maximum of one hour daily at suitable or proportional time slots interspersed with during that day as sought by the Central Government or the State Government concerned.

“In case the total demand of the Central Government and the State Government exceeds one hour per day, the State Government concerned shall be eligible for announcements covering only the period remaining after meeting the demand of the Central Government,” relevant clauses in the GOPA and MGOPA state.

Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) officials wondered at the timing of the advisory, contending that the radio channels have been following the rules, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when messages creating awareness about the viral outbreak were broadcast.

“Now, therefore, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, in exercise of powers flowing from GOPA/MGOPA, hereby advises all the permission holders to strictly adhere to the aforementioned terms and conditions of permission,” the advisory said. It said the Government had the right to impose penalties as specified under GOPA/MGOPA in the event of a permission holder violating any terms and conditions of permission. The Hitavada

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