Radio can also be used to promote peace, interfaith harmony, patriotism, regional cooperation and friendship
Announced in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, February 13 is observed as World Radio Day. Radio has always been a powerful medium for serving the humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for a democratic discourse.
Radio, now more than a century old, has thrived in many cultures as a traditional means of social interaction, information dissemination and promotion of education. At the global level, radio remains the most widely used medium. With its unique ability to reach out to the widest audience, radio can shape a society’s experience of variety and stand as a platform for all voices.
The theme for the Radio Day 2021 is, “New World, New Radio.“ The sub-theme refers to the resilience of the radio, by highlighting its role of “Evolution, Innovation and Connection”. It also encourages decision-makers to establish networking and generate international cooperation among broadcasters.
Radio remains a go-to medium of mobility and accessibility everywhere and for everyone. Radio also serves our societies by warning about natural disasters, socio-economic crisis and promoting peace and development.
At the individual level, this medium is a forceful resource of information and entertainment. Thus having a radio means you are never alone. One person in three has a radio set globally and there are over 40,000 functional radio stations across the world.
Unfortunately, radio broadcasting has also been used as a strong and effective communication source for propaganda across the world. The role of new radio in the new world where violence, wars and terrorism prevail in various regions of the world is critical. The importance of this mass media module has, thus, become manifold to address the issues.
In the present times of the fifth generation warfare (5GW) the media, including radio broadcasting, is playing a big role in the form of propaganda. The All India Radio-Urdu Service can be cited as an example in this regard. The radio played a major role during the Indio-Pak wars in 1965 and 1971. The propaganda helped create news and stories against regional countries. India, under its communication strategy, has installed powerful radio stations/transformers along its borders with Pakistan.
In present times of technological revolution and transformation‚ the FM broadcast — a resource of information and entertainment — has taken the lead. Radio has a powerful voice that makes people informed.
Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW) is a battle of perceptions and information, a cultural warfare that gives a manipulated view of the world and politics. Under this theory, India is portraying Pakistan as unsafe for foreign investment, particularly in the context of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There is a dire need to set up a radio service to rebut Indian propaganda against the CPEC.
Instead, the government is closing down some radio stations, including Radio Mianwali, Lahore Medium Wave, PBC broadcasting house Rawalpindi-III, Central Production Unit, Lahore and Karachi, and Pakistan Broadcasting Academy Islamabad. A circular issued by the PBC on May 7, 2019, announced the closure of Mithi, Bhitshah, Sargodha and Abbottabad radio stations as well.
The government, it is said, is not in a position to bear the operational costs - salaries and pensions, cost of repair or replacement of transmitters and studio equipment of various radio stations. Much of the equipments has completed its design life and became irreparable.
A statement issued by the PBC says that transmission of age-old medium wave 630 kHz, (Lahore radio station) has not been shut down although the number of daily service hours has been reduced.
Currently, it cannot be tuned in clearly in the city, except in and around the radio station building. Another representative of Lahore Radio, i.e., FM 93 too cannot be tuned in properly.
In the present times of technological revolution and transformation‚ the FM broadcasts have taken the lead. The number of cellular mobile phone users in Pakistan has meanwhile reached millions.
Radio can be used to promote peace, interfaith harmony, patriotism, regional cooperation and friendship among various sections of society and to counter Indian Fifth Generation Warfare. It should be the first and foremost priority of our government to develop the PBC and fully equip it to meet the challenges of Fifth Generation Warfare.
Finally, radio has a powerful voice that makes people informed. That is why it is said that every mind has a radio fitted inside; that needs to be turned on.
The writer is a playwright and freelance journalist