The Centre on Tuesday said private FM channels will be allowed to broadcast All India Radio news in English and Hindi, PTI reported. The announcement came days after public broadcaster Prasar Bharati decided to shut down All India Radio’s national channel in five cities to cut costs and to “rationalise” services.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Tuesday said the service will permit the private channels to broadcast the service in an unaltered format, including advertisements, for free till May 31. The initiative is on a trial basis, Rathore said.

The minister said the private channels may avoid broadcasting in “disturbed, border and Naxal-affected areas”.

“Our priority is awareness among citizens and secondary is revenue generation,” Rathore said. “We have made it available free of cost so that there are no further delays.”

Prasar Bharati Chairman A Surya Prakash described the provision as a significant one “in this era of collaboration and convergence”.

Anuradha Prasad, president of the Association of Radio Operators of India, thanked the Centre for agreeing to its request to permit private radio channels to air news.