The Board of India’s national broadcaster Prasar Bharati is contemplating shutting down the shortwave service of the External Services Division (ESD) of All India Radio (AIR).
While a proposal to switch to more affordable internet-based radio service is under consideration, a section of the board feels that an exorbitant amount is being spent to maintain the current short wave infrastructure.
AIR began external broadcasting shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War, with a service in Pushtu for listeners across the country’s then North West Frontier to counter radio propaganda from Germany, directed at Afghanistan, Iran and Arab countries.
At present, ESD broadcasts 57 transmissions daily, with almost 72 hours covering over 108 countries in 27 languages, out of which 15 are foreign and 12 are Indian.
According to an official in the ESD, its total annual budget is $15 million (Rs 1 billion), out of which approximately $14.24 million (Rs 950 million) is spent on the maintenance of short wave transmitters and the rest on the production of programmes and staff salaries.