All India Radio to be Exclusively Known as Akashvani

The Central Government has ordered that All India Radio (AIR), the country’s public broadcaster, be exclusively referred to as Akashvani in all broadcasts and programmes. This move is in line with the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990, passed by Parliament, and is aimed at bringing the name and title of the broadcaster in tune with the statutory provisions. The name change is long pending and in accordance with the law which came into being in 1997. This renaming exercise seeks to rid the organization of colonial baggage.

A Rich History

AIR has a long and rich history in India. Radio broadcasting began in India in 1923 when the Radio Club of Bombay sent out the first commercial transmission. In the same year, the Calcutta Radio Club and Madras Presidency Radio Club were established, but the ambitious Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) faced bankruptcy in 1930. After the government intervened, the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS) started its operations on an experimental basis in 1930. Lionel Fielden, a senior BBC producer, was appointed as India’s first Controller of Broadcasting in 1935 and introduced major advancements to the programming. Finally, on June 8, 1936, ISBS was renamed All India Radio.

Exponential Growth

At the time of independence, India had only six radio stations, covering just 2% of the country’s land area and reaching only 11% of its population. Since then, AIR has grown exponentially and now has a network of over 262 radio stations, covering 92% of India’s area and nearly all of its population. The broadcaster offers programming in 23 languages and 146 dialects, catering to India’s diverse demographics and tastes. Furthermore, AIR has an External Services Division that transmits content in 11 Indian and 16 foreign languages to over 100 countries. Additionally, the News Services Division of AIR airs 647 bulletins daily, having an overall duration of almost 56 hours.

FM Broadcasting and Akashvani Jingle

FM broadcasting began in Chennai in 1977 and expanded in the 1990s. Today, AIR has 18 FM stereo channels that largely target urban audiences. The name Akashvani was adopted by AIR in 1956 and has been used interchangeably with AIR, particularly for Hindi programming. The Akashvani jingle, which was composed by Walter Kaufmann, evokes nostalgia for many Indians today. It is a popular tune that played at the start of AIR programming and continues to be used today.



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