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India Plans for FM Expansion

I&B hopes to auction additional private FM licenses later this year

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Secretary Apurva Chandra opens BES Expo 2023. Photo Courtesy Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd. via Facebook.

Speaking at BES Expo 2023, Apurva Chandra, secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, announced that the government is looking towards an FM expansion for India.

As of June 2022, 388 private FM stations are on the air in India, primarily in large cities. National broadcaster All India Radio operates nearly 500 FM transmitters across the country. Chandra said that despite the large number of FM stations in India, only about 60% of the Indian population is covered by FM signals.

Chandra said the I&B hopes to take to auction FM licenses for Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities later this year. Tier-2 cities have a population of 50,000 to 100,000 people; Tier-3 cities have a population of 20,000 to 50,000.

[Read more radio news from around the globe here.]

In addition to the auction of new private FM licenses, Chandra said the Indian government recently allocated ₹25 million (about $302,000) to the Broadcasting Infrastructure and Network Development (BIND) plan, which will support upgrading public-service broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s infrastructure, including All India Radio, over the next four years.

Also during BES Expo, I&B Joint Secretary Senthil Rajan Chokkalingam noted that community radio broadcasting continues to grow in India. About 50 new community radio stations went on air during 2022, and the I&B is working with the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi to develop best practices guidelines.

Rajan noted that I&B is ready to work with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Communications to support the expansion of community radio in the country.

BES Expo 2023 was held Feb. 16–18 in Delhi and organized by the Broadcast Engineering Society (India).