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 Up loaded on Wednesday September 08, 2010

  Sending right signals in troubled areas


            The government has drawn up a plan to bolster state-run broadcasting in areas vulnerable to misinformation campaign from across the border. Such campaign by way of radio and television content is viewed by the government as posing a threat to national security by wrongly influencing public opinion.

          What's being mulled is a two-pronged strategy: Impeding the flow of misinformation from across the border by blocking airwaves and strengthening the network of All India Radio and Doordarshan in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and other border states.

          The move, according to top government sources , is aimed at connecting the local communities along border areas with the mainstream through radio and TV programmes.

          Also, with help from states, efforts are on in full swing to jam and block unauthorised radio channels and websites in Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Orissa and other Naxal-affected states which are being used by Naxal sympathisers.

           In Jammu &Kashmir and Punjab, the government has identified towns to strengthen the range of high- and low-powered transmitters of All India Radio and Doordarshan, a move to counter satellite channels from across the border spreading misinformation, sources added.

          New broadcast towers are expected to come up in Naushera, Poonch, Srinagar, Rajouri and Kargil among other border towns in J&K and Punjab. In order to connect citizens in remote areas of J&K and the north-eastern states, the information and broadcasting ministry has also drawn up plans for freely distributing DD Direct Plus, Doordarshan's DTH service.

         Meanwhile, the Information & Broadcasting ministry has chalked out a road map to overhaul the content of DD Kashir and DD North East to make them more popular and appealing in J&K, Assam, Meghalaya and other north-eastern states.

           In Bihar, the government has identified districts including Bettiah, Motihari and Madhubani where FM stations will be set up to reach members of the local community who otherwise access FM stations from Nepal that transmit in Maithili language. According to reports, intelligence officials have expressed concerns on the rising popularity of Nepalese radio stations in large areas of Bihar which may be misused by Maoist elements to influence villagers.

         “Some work is already underway. The work of setting up FM stations will resume after the state elections,” a Bihar government official told FE from Motihari.

       According to central government sources, the focus is on a 360-degree approach towards reaching people through the vast network of Doordarshan and AIR. “Recently, state governments in the north-east had requested more radio and TV stations. The government is committed in its efforts and therefore, a large sum of money has been allocated for the upgradation of DD and AIR infrastructure in the north-east,” a senior government official said.

       According to government sources, the Maoist propaganda across print, radio and internet in the Naxal-hit districts of Chhattisgarh and West Bengal has also come under the scanner. “There are several Maoist blogs, apart from low-frequency radio stations spreading the Maoist agenda in the tribal areas. Powerful jammers are being deployed and IT professionals from the private sector are being put into service to counter the misuse of these media platforms,” a senior media consultant who advises both government and media firms in these states said on conditions of anonymity.


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