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I&B ministry considering raising air time for ads to 12 minutes: Prakash Javadekar

NEW DELHI: Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Friday said the ministry was considering raising advertisements' air time on community radio to 12 minutes from the present seven minutes to bring the medium on par with TV channels. He was addressing listeners of community radio stations in a unique simultaneous broadcast. His address was broadcast in two equal slots between 7 pm and 7.30 pm.

Terming community radio stations "agents of change", the Union minister said they reach out to millions of people every day, and that the ministry will come out with a plan to increase the number of such stations soon.

Currently, 290 community radio stations are operational across the country.

In his address, he also touched on the key demand of community radio stations to broadcast news on their channels.

Javadekar assured that he will consider allowing news broadcast on community radio the same way it is done on FM channels.

He prodded such stations to play key role in combating the menace of fake news by taking note of such news in circulation and verify it through local sources to act on it. He invited stations to share it with All India Radio also so that the reach of the truth can be amplified.

The I&B ministry has created a Fact Check Cell under PIB and the community radio can complement the role of Fact Check Cell, he added.

Javadekar said while 75 per cent of the expenditure during setting-up of community radio stations is borne by the ministry, daily operations are looked after by the station.

Community radio stations are allowed seven minutes per hour for advertisements while the same is 12 minutes for TV channels, he pointed out, adding that he was eager to give equal time to all radio stations so that there is no need for them to seek funds and that local advertisements can be relayed more on community stations.

Exhorting people to keep up their fight against coronavirus, the minister said "we will drive it away the way we have driven away other diseases". He appealed to people to stay home as much as possible, frequently wash hands, wear face mask in public and follow social distancing.

Speaking on the dilemma between the challenges of social distancing and economic activity, he re-iterated the mantra of "Jaan Bhi Jahaan Bhi" and said while restrictions are continuing in containment zones, economic activities have started in green zones.

Javadekar said the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package recently unveiled by the government was a comprehensive package which included reforms for various sectors, including agriculture and industry.
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