Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat, broadcast once a month, is one of the several programmes likely to be hit by the decision taken by All India Radio (AIR), as it discontinues the practice of sending news alerts as SMSes to its subscribers. From April 5, the public service broadcaster has stopped sending news alerts. The decision to discontinue the service was taken on April 1 by the Prasar Bharati Corporation, the parent body of AIR.
The objective of the free service was to mainly reach out to those who do not have smart phones, or did not use social media platforms for news updates. On April 5, there was a short message to subscribers: “As decided by Prasar Bharati, we hereby stop SMS services being provided since September 2013. We thank all our subscribers for their support and appreciation.”
According to sources, the main reason for discontinuing the service was the cost. A view echoed by CEO of the Prasar Bharati Corporation Jawhar Sircar, who, said, “It was not cost-effective. It was meant for an advertising-based model which Akashvani couldn’t work out. We will try better solutions.”
The service launched on September 9, 2013 provided national, international news, headlines in 16 languages and live news updates for special events like Mann Ki Baat, Budget, Independence Day speech of PM and the President’s address on the eve of Republic Day. Using NIC SMS gateway for delivering free SMSes to start with, and after TRAI’s order, AIR had to pay for sending out the alerts and in the process, incurred an expenditure of Rs. 5.5 cr. in the financial year 2015-16.
According to an internal note, AIR sends three million SMSes to its subscribers on a daily basis. Each SMS has 160 characters and a suggestion was made to Prasar Bharati to monetise the service to make it economically viable. Till the time it was discontinued, it was estimated that three million SMSes were sent to subscribers on a daily basis.
[Source:- The Hindu]