Referring to community radio stations, it said they were run by NGOs and could be used as platforms to manipulate the minds of local people.
The government added that some radio stations also air programmes involving chats with NRIs and these may be exploited too.
Such a ban is unprecedented in any democratic society; and in many ways, unique to India: The only examples that can be counted globally are in clearly totalitarian states. India's stance has been perplexing to not only citizens of this country, but also activists globally, who clearly would like India to set a precedent of openness in this respect. With over 20 years of commercial broadcasting and a decade and half of community broadcasting ver radio gone, this stance only continues to become more perplexing as time goes by - since there seems to be utterly no evidence that it has achieved any purpose. This is especially true in an environment where we have nearly 300 satellite TV channels specializing in news; and the internet allows many people to access anything they want anyway. (Discussions on internet access, Digital India, the so-called mobile success story and restrictions on internet access on another day...)
A few years ago (2012), the Delhi based Common Cause, represented by Prashant Bhushan, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court a couple of years ago, challenging this ban on news over private FM and community radio. The PIL, which presents its case in a fairly unambiguus and clearheaded manner, is attached.
Four weeks ago, the Supreme Court requested the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to provide its views on why news should not be allowed on private FM. In its wisdom, the Ministry responded yesterday, as reported in today's Times of India: