The News Services Division (NSD) of All India Radio disseminates news and comments to listeners in India and abroad. From 27 news bulletins in 1939-40, AIR today puts out 647 bulletins daily around 56 hours in 90 languages/dialects in the Home, Regional and External Services.
Out of these, 178 bulletins are broadcast daily from Delhi in 33 languages. The 45 Regional News Units (RNUs) put out 469 daily news bulletins in 75 languages. This includes 314 headlines bulletins mounted on FM ‘Rainbow’ and from 40 AIR Stations. In addition to the daily news bulletins, the News Services Division also mounts number of news-based programmes on topical subjects from Delhi and its Regional News Units.
The history of news broadcasting in India is much older than that of All India Radio. The first ever news bulletin in the country went on the air from the Bombay Station on July 23, 1927 under a private company, the Indian Broadcasting Company. A month later on August 26, 1927 another bulletin in Bengali was started from the Calcutta Station. Until 1935, two bulletins, one each in English and Hindustani were broadcast from Bombay and a bulletin in Bengali was broadcast from Calcutta. The Indian Broadcasting Company went into liquidation in March, 1930 following which broadcasting came under the direct control of the Government of India. The service was designated as the Indian State Broadcasting Service. It was renamed All India Radio on June 8, 1936.
The real breakthrough in news broadcasting came after January 1936 when the first news bulletin from the Delhi Station went on the air on January 19, 1936 coinciding with the starting of its transmission. Besides, news bulletins in English and Hindustani, talks on current affairs were also started from the Station in both the languages.
The Central News Organization was set up on August 1, 1937. Mr. Charles Barnes took charge as the first News Editor in September and he later became the first Director of News. The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 gave an impetus to the development of the Organization. The Monitoring Service was set up in 1939 to monitor foreign broadcasts. In 1943, the External Broadcast Unit was set up under the Director of News. By 1945, the Central News Organization was handling news bulletins in different Indian languages as well as in the External Services. After Independence, news broadcasts of AIR grew both in quantity and quality. More emphasis was laid on national and regional news bulletins.
The News Services Division broadcasts from Delhi 178 daily news bulletins in English, Hindi and 33 languages for a duration of 22 hours and 17 minutes. This includes 56 bulletins in external services in 22 languages. In Hindi, 21 news bulletins are broadcast for duration of two hours 30 minutes while 26 news bulletins are put out in English everyday for a duration of 3 hours and 05 minutes. These include two Sports news bulletins one each in Hindi and English. Apart from Hindi, 48 news bulletins in 18 Indian languages for duration of 8 hours and 05 minutes are broadcast everyday. Language bulletins have over the years become the main source of national, international and regional news for the masses in small towns and villages. The evening bulletins in Dogri, Kashmiri and Urdu include a commentary on topical subjects.
Regional news bulletins were introduced in the early fifties. The first such news bulletins were broadcast in April, 1953 from Lucknow and Nagpur Stations. In 1954-55, Regional News Units were set up at Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. This grew steadily and at present there are 45 Regional News Units functioning in different parts of the country. 469 news bulletins in 75 regional languages/dialects including English and Hindi are being broadcast for a duration of 33 hours and 10 minutes. This includes 290 headlines bulletins on FM and other frequencies from 39 stations.
Initially, the External Services were part of the News Services Division. They were de-linked from the Division on September 15, 1948. However, the responsibility of compiling the external news bulletins remains with the News Services Division.
At present, a total of 66 news bulletins are broadcast daily in 26 languages (Indian and Foreign) for duration of 9 hours and 13 minutes. Fifty six of these go on the air from Delhi while the remaining ten bulletins of 1 hours 20 minutes duration are put out by our 56 RNUs – Mumbai (01), Kolkata (03), Hyderabad (01) and Chennai (2),Dharwad (11), Ahmedabad (2).
BULLETINS ON FM ‘RAINBOW’ CHANNEL
The News Services Division has been putting out news headlines on FM ‘Rainbow’ channel since Delhi from May 28, 1995. Twenty four news headline bulletins on FM ‘Rainbow’ are broadcast round-the-clock from Delhi. The duration of each headline FM ‘Rainbow’ bulletin from Delhi is one minute approx. At present 40 AIR stations are broadcasting FM Headlines.
BULLETINS ON FM Gold CHANNEL
FM Gold, the news and entertainment channel was launched on September 1, 2001. On air for about 18 hours a day from 0060 hrs to 10 minutes past midnight, the Channel provides a composite blend of information and entertainment with about a third of its content devoted to news and current affairs. The Channel carries news on the hour originating from Delhi. Composite news programmes Dopahar Samachar in Hindi & Midday news in English are broadcast daily for a duration of 30 minutes each. The channel has also some specialized programmes like ‘Market Mantra’ (Business Magazine) and ‘Sports Scan’. Other news-based programmes mounted on FM Gold include ‘Vaad Samvaad’ and ‘Countrywide’ based on interviews with prominent personalities. Some other news programes introduced recently are Aaj Savere ,Parikrama, Public speak & World News.
In February 1936, talks on current topics were introduced for the first time in English. Later that year talks on current topics in Hindustani were added. ‘Topic for Today’ and ‘Focus’ on matters of current interest were introduced on 26th October, 1962. The programmes were renamed ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Current Affairs’ respectively in 1967.
The Current Affairs programme deals with topical issues in which various subject specialists express their viewpoint. The half-an-hour programme in English goes on the air from Delhi from 9.30 p.m. on Fridays. The corresponding Hindi programme, “Charcha Ka Vishai Hai” goes on the air from 9.30 p.m. on Wednesdays. ‘Samayiki’ and ‘Spotlight’ are also news-based programmes broadcast daily from Delhi. Commentaries on current topics in Urdu, Kashmiri and Dogri are also put out daily from headquarters, Delhi.
COVERAGE OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS
The daily and weekly reviews of the proceedings in Parliament were introduced on February 14, 1961 in English and Hindi. The daily review called ‘Today in Parliament’ in English and ‘Sansad Sameeksha’ in Hindi is in two parts, one on the proceedings in the Lok Sabha and the other on those in the Rajya Sabha. The weekly review in English – ‘This week in Parliament’ and in Hindi ‘Is Saptah Sansad Main’ – sums up the important highlights of the preceding week’s proceedings in both Houses.
The broadcasts of the daily and ‘Weekly Reviews’ of the proceedings of the State legislatures while in session were started in 1971-72 in the respective regional languages. A review of the ‘Proceedings of the Delhi Assembly’ was started from December 14, 1993.
Radio Newsreel was started on December 10, 1955 both in English (Radio Newsreel) and Hindi (Samachar Darshan). Newsreel in English is broadcast on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday while Samachar Darshan is broadcast on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Some Regional News Units also put out regional Newsreels in the respective regional languages.
NEWS ON PHONE SERVICE
AIR's News-on-Phone (NOP) service was introduced on February 25, 1998 from Delhi. The service provides the latest news highlights in Hindi and English to a listener anywhere in the world on phone by dialling specified numbers. Later, the News on Phone’ service in Tamil from Chennai, in Telugu from Hyderabad, in Marathi from Mumbai and in Hindi from Patna were also introduced. This service has also been started from the Regional News Units at Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Bangalore and Jaipur in 2006 and from Imphal and Lucknow in 2007. NOP services are now available from 14 AIR stations including Delhi.
The bulk of AIR news comes from its Correspondents spread all over the country. AIR has 90 regular Correspondents in India and abroad at Colombo, Dhaka, Dubai, Kathmandu, and Kabul. Apart from this, AIR has over 500 Part-time Correspondents based at nearly all district headquarters. The PTCs are to meet the requirements of Doordarshan News also.
NSD subscribes to the news wire agencies – UNI, PTI and their corresponding Hindi services – Univarta and Bhasha . Another source of news is the Monitoring Units (English and Hindi) attached to the General Newsroom and the Central Monitoring Services, which monitor the bulletins of major broadcasting organizations of the world. A Radio News Exchange Programme has been initiated with the members of the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union to broaden the news coverage. An Information Technology Unit was set up at Delhi to take care of the IT requirements of NSD. The Unit has set up an internal Website to cater to the news requirements of the Regional News Units and others.
SET UP OF NSD
The News Services Division is headed by a Director General who is one of the senior most officers of the Indian Information Service. He is assisted by a team of Additional Directors General (News), Directors (News) and Joint Directors (News).
The operational wings of NSD at headquarters in Delhi include, General News Room, Hindi News Room, Reporting Unit, Talks Units (English and Hindi), Newsreel Unit, New Format Cell, Indian Language Units, Monitoring Unit, Reference Unit, IT unit and Administrative Wing. The Regional News Units in various States are headed by a Joint Director or a News Editor or an Assistant News Editor assisted by Correspondents, Reporters and Newsreaders-cum-Translators.