- The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has asked smartphone makers to enable FM radio on compatible devices.
- As per the rules, companies cannot keep FM radio disabled by software, if the hardware is capable of receiving radio signals.
- TRAI has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and even MeitY to set up an independent body for the implementation of these new rules.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released a set of guidelines on enabling FM radio receivers on mobile phones. The Ministry says that radio consumption in India is quite high, but most modern smartphones do not have the functionality to play radio signals. As per the latest orders, smartphone companies will now be required to enable built-in FM radio receivers in mobile devices.
TRAI Wants FM Radio Enabled on Smartphones
TRAI has assessed the consumption of content across various segments. As smartphones have emerged as the primary source of information for a lot of users, they have become a vital part of the communications industry. However, rural parts of India still use the traditional radio for news and entertainment.
Modern smartphones do not support FM radio directly. Mobile companies have cited the decline in radio consumption as a reason to omit FM Radio support. However, most of the devices already have a built-in radio receiver, which is disabled by companies manually.
TRAI has asked the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to order mobile manufacturers to enable FM radio receivers. Any device that has the hardware for FM radio must provide the option to play FM radio. However, this does not mean that all devices are required to include radio receivers.
Hence, companies can either choose to enable the option to play FM radio on their phones, or completely remove the FM radio receiver antenna hardware from phones. As per these orders, companies cannot keep FM radio disabled if the hardware is capable of playing radio.
TRAI is ordering these changes because the number of FM radio users in India is still significant. But the number of standalone FM radio receivers in the market is declining. Since smartphones are emerging as new handheld information sources, enabling FM radio on compatible devices will not just help the user, but also help the radio industry to strengthen its user base.
TRAI Giving A Push to the Radio Industry
Further to the announcement, TRAI has also set some new recommendations for the radio industry. Private Radio Channels could soon be permitted to announce the latest news and current affairs for 10 minutes every hour. This will push radio usage in rural parts of the country, where the internet is not abundant.
TRAI has also recommended to delink the annual license fee of FM Radio channels from Non-Refundable One Time Entry Fee. The new license fee structure will be calculated as 4% of the Gross Revenue of the FM Radio channel.
Currently, there are 388 functional FM radio channels in India. This includes both private and government players. The private radio industry is pre-dominant for entertainment with songs and music, while the government side is known for sports commentary, official news, current affairs, and the latest government updates.