Dec 30, 2011
In the mid 1980's it was always extremely difficult to balance the programme bearing in mind the varying listener interests. Most of the feedback came from South Asia, North America, Europe and the Pacific, so compiling an edition to interest someone in Bombay as well as Boston was challenging. Following my trip to Victor Goonetilleke in 1985, we experimented with some special Asian editions of the programme which were only broadcast to Asia at 1430 UTC. They had very different content, focussing mainly on South Asia. The programmes brought mixed response. Some said they liked the fact that we highlighted issues affecting South-Asian listeners. But there was an equally strong lobby that said the reason for tuning in to a European station was to find out what new technologies were being used there. They thought we should not single out a particular area as being a special case.
In the end, we limited the number of special opt-out programmes, prefering to do "media safaris" to various regions of the world and making the programmes available to all target areas.
In this edition we looked at the different approaches taken by foreign radio manufacturers in India. Philips set up Philips of India and made radios locally to match the buying power of that market. The Japanese, on the other hand, did not share their technology and would only build screw-driver assembly plants in India using components shipped from Japan. In the end, the Indian engineers had the last laugh. They quickly became the engineering entrpreneurs in the Middle East, South-East Asia and Silicon Valley leaving the Europeans very much in the shade. On later visits to Delhi it was obvious that operations like TV Today and NDTV didn't need any help from "developed countries". They were well ahead already. Only Indian state TV and radio remains firmly stuck in the 1960's, strangled by its own bureacracy. When was the last time you listened to All India Radio?