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Radio broadcasting is a government monopoly under the Directorate General of All India Radio--established in 1936 and since 1957 also known as Akashvani--a government-owned, semicommercial operation of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. From only six stations at the time of independence, All India Radio's network had expanded by the mid-1990s to 146 AM stations plus a National Channel, the Integrated North-East Service (aimed at tribal groups in northeast India), and the External Service. There are five regional headquarters for All India Radio: the North Zone in New Delhi; the North-East Zone in Guwahati, Assam; the East Zone in Calcutta; the West Zone in Bombay; and the South Zone in Madras.

The government-owned network provides both national and local programs in Hindi, English, and sixteen regional languages. Commercial services, which were inaugurated in 1967, are provided by Vividh Bharati Service, headquartered in Bombay. Vividh Bharati, which accepts advertisements, broadcasts from thirty-one AM and FM stations in the mid-1990s.

India has an extensive network of mediumwave and shortwave stations. In 1994 there were eighty-five FM stations and seventy-three shortwave stations that covered the entire country. The broadcasting equipment is mostly Indian made and reaches special audiences, such as farmers needing agroclimatic, plant protection, and other agriculture-related information. The number of radio receivers increased almost fivefold between 1970 and 1994, from around 14 million to nearly 65 million. Most radios are also produced within India.

The foreign broadcast service is a function of the External Services Division of All India Radio. In 1994 seventy hours of news, features, and entertainment programs were broadcast daily in twenty-five languages using thirty-two shortwave transmitters. The principal target audiences are listeners in neighboring countries and the large overseas Indian community.


Television service is available throughout the country. Broadcasting is a central government monopoly under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, but the only network system, Doordarshan, also known as TV1, accepts advertisements for some programs. Doordarshan, established in 1959 and a part of All India Radio until 1976, consists of one national network and seven regional networks. In 1992 there were sixty-three high-power television transmitters, 369 medium-power transmitters, seventy-six low-power transmitters, and twenty-three transposers. Regular satellite transmissions began in 1982 (the same year color transmission began).

By 1994 some 6 million people were receiving television broadcasts via satellite, and the number was expected to increase rapidly throughout the rest of the decade. Cable television was even more prolific, with an estimated 12 to 15 million subscribers in 1994. Besides Doordarshan, Zee TV--an independent station broadcasting from Bombay since 1992--uses satellite transmissions. In fact, because Doordarshan is the only network that is permitted to broadcast television signals domestically, Zee TV and other entrepreneurs broadcast their Indian-made videotapes via foreign transmitters. Other networks joining the fray are Cable News Network (CNN--starting in 1990); Asia Television Network (1991); Hong Kong-based Star TV (1991); Jain TV, near Bombay (1994); EL TV, a spinoff of Zee TV in Bombay (1994); HTV, an affiliate of the Hindustan Times in New Delhi (1994); and Sun TV, a Tamil-language service in Madras (1994) (see Broadcast Media, ch. 8). In a communications breakthrough in July 1995, Doordarshan agreed, for a US$1.5 million annual fee and 50 percent of advertising revenue when it exceeds US$1.5 million, to allow CNN to broadcast twenty-four hours a day via an Indian satellite.

Doordarshan offers national, regional, and local service. The number of television sets increased from around 500,000 in 1976 to 9 million in early 1987 and to around 47 million in 1994; increases are expected to continue at around 6 million sets per year. More than 75 percent of television sets were black and white models in 1992, but the proportion of color sets is increasing annually. Most television sets are produced in India.

Data as of September 1995

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