Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Message by CEO Prasar Bharati Shashi Shekhar Vempati on World Radio Day



I am very happy to connect with all the listeners of All India Radio on World Radio day. World Radio Day is observed by UNESCO since year 2012. Last year the theme was on Radio and sports. This year, the theme is dialogue, tolerance and peace. I think it's a very interesting theme, coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi ji always stood for peace, tolerance and dialogue. So in that sense, it's an interesting coincidence that UNESCO has also chosen this topic for World Radio Day.
Interestingly, Radio has evolved as a platform for people to connect across regions of India, across cultures, in a manner that you probably had not foreseen sometime back. A great example is the Prime Minister's Mann Ki Baat which has brought Radio back to the national discourse as a medium, especially in this day and age where smartphones have invaded almost every moment in our private space, where television viewing and the internet have dominated how media is consumed. Radio still has a value, very unique value and a unique place, thanks to the nature of this medium. So it is fitting that we are observing World Radio Day.
As we expand and transform Radio in India, I think it is important that we increasingly build out more and more digital capabilities, make radio accessible as a medium through devices of choice that are easily available to the masses across India. The fact that FM chipsets where embedded in Smartphones made FM listening very easily accessible, even if you are on the go, or working, or commuting. I think this was a very transformational change that has popularised FM as the medium of choice to listeners which is also reflected in our expansion plans of All India Radio, where you see increasingly more and more of our investment is going towards FM transmitters and FM stations. So that is possible largely because of this convergence that is happening on devices with smartphones capable of catching FM signals, but as we look ahead, I think when we launched All India Radio services on artificial intelligence enabled devices like Amazon Alexa, I think we have taken this transformation to the next level.
Historically, Radio has been a one way medium where you could just listen to what was being broadcast. Now with Amazon Alexa you can actually converse with the device, you can instruct it, you can command it and you can listen to the content of your choice on demand. I think it's a fundamental change in listening habits and I am very happy that All India Radio has prepared itself for this artificial intelligence enabled future. We will have to take this further by ensuring that all of our content, especially the content diversity that we have across languages, from various parts of India is easily accessible in these digital medium of choice, be it on smartphones, be it on intelligent devices like Google Home, Alexa and so on.
We also will have to ensure that we are digitally savvy and we are much more nimble in how we produce content, how we distribute content, how we package content by understanding the consumption behaviour of today's youth so that Radio as a medium appeals to them, Radio as a medium is something that they can identify with. India is a young nation, so clearly Radio must evolve as a platform of choice for the youth.
So these are my thoughts on World Radio Day and I hope and wish that Radio as a platform continues to enhance dialogue, encourage tolerance and becomes a means of establishing peace both within the nation and across the globe.

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