Monday, February 17th, 2020

New Roadmap on Community Radio Initiatives on the Anvil Three Day National Level Consultation on Community Radio Commences

INVC,, Delhi,, A three day National Consultation on Community Radio Services commenced today with the objective of carving out a new roadmap for mainstreaming community radio as an effective outreach tool, not only within the media landscape but also a tool for empowering disadvantaged communities. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, I&B, Shri Raghu Menon said the purpose of the Consultation was to bring about an informed debate about the policy and administrative changes that were necessary to overcome the challenges being faced by Community Radio Stations today. This included cumbersome licensing procedures, dearth of funds for setting up and operationalising such stations, spectrum constraints and the lack of technical and professional training. Secretary also mentioned that the Consultation could consider outlining a blue print plan of action to set up a mechanism for networking and content sharing amongst the Community Radio Stations. This would be the guiding tool for the next phase of growth for the sector. Shri Menon further stated that the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting was aware of such functional constraints and had undertaken measures to streamline the process. Some of the initiatives included expediting the process of filing applications through online filing system for speedy clearances, awareness generation through workshops and the regular meetings of the Inter Ministerial Committee to expedite the clearances. Due to these initiatives 263 Letters of Intent (LoI) had been issued and 121 Grant of Permission Agreement with various organizations had been undertaken. Regarding the future roadmap, Shri Menon said, if sustainability of the Community Radio Movement suffered due to lack of funding, the Ministry could consider introducing a new scheme in the 12th Plan to at least provide some quantum of the initial non-recurring cost as ‘seed money’. It had also been decided to organize ‘Capacity Building Workshops’ for the existing Community Radio Stations. This would enable the functioning organizations to develop their skills, content and outreach and become a tool of effective two way communication highlighting the aspirations of the community. As part of the future roadmap, Secretary, I&B mentioned that in future community oriented messages could be effectively placed through the integrated efforts of government departments like health, education, rural development, women and child development including programmes such as NRHM, Micro-credit Schemes involving Self Help Groups and NREG Scheme. Shri Menon further added that the content emanating from Community Radio Stations evinced a lot of interest from far flung areas and communities. In such places, the content from the mainstream media evoked little interest and did not cater to the information needs of the region. In his address, Mr. W. Jayaweera, Director, Division for Communication Development, UNESCO, Paris stated that the growth of the Community Radio movement could be facilitated by incorporating and sharing the best practices of other countries. These included inclusion of certain indicators which facilitated growth such as pricing and structure of licenses not being prohibitive to the growth of such stations, special quotas within the spectrum for Community Radio operations and special pricing norms for community radio tools and equipment. In his address, Shri Arvind Kumar, Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) highlighted the initiatives taken by the Ministry in extending the outreach of the Community Radio Stations including the enhancement of scope of eligibility in 2006. Due to this initiative Non Governmental and Community based organizations with at least three years of legal existence were eligible to participate. The license period was increased from 3 to 5 years and the bank guarantee was reduced to Rs.25,000 from Rs.50,000. To improve the viability of operations, advertising upto 5 minutes per hour of broadcast was allowed as part of business operational plan. The consultation will bring together community broadcasters and other key stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations, media activists, academia and the policy makers to take stock of the achievements of this burgeoning sector of radio broadcasting in India, and explore ways to take this movement to the next level. The consultation seeks to analyse, assess and amend the current Community Radio Policy in achieving the goals of disseminating information, strengthening grass-root democracy and fulfilling social development objectives and discuss issues of financial & social sustainability of Community Radio Stations. The discussions will help design joint action strategies and define the role of organizations such as UNESCO, CRF, CEMCA, various Government Departments and other partners in strengthening the CR movement. The outcome from the consultation are expected to focus on : • Enhancement of stakeholders’ coordination in their effort to make community radio sustainable and more effective partner in development • Increasing scope of collaboration between organizations working on developmental issues • Furthering the use of new media and innovative/appropriate technology in the community radio sector Ministry of Information & Broadcasting is mandated to permit eligible organizations to run Community Radio Stations as per the Policy Guidelines of 2006. Community Radio is an extraordinary and invisible medium to give voice to the voiceless. It provides an opportunity to the community to speak about issues concerning their lives. It can also facilitate development by disseminating information regarding rural development, agriculture, health, nutrition, education and Panchayati Raj issues, thus enabling Government to reach out to beneficiaries more effectively. Ministry of I&B has been taking proactive steps to give a fillip to the Community Radio Movement in the country. So far 263 Letter of Intents have been issued, 121 Grant of Permission have been signed and 103 Community Radio Stations have been operationlaised in various parts of the country. Out of 103 stations 71 are run by Educational Institutions, 24 by community based organizations and 8 by Krishi Vigyan Kendra/State Agriculture Institutions. There has been a steady increase in the number of operational Community Radio Stations in the country. It has increased from 57 stations in the month of May 2010 to 103 Radio Stations in November 2010. [caption id="attachment_21489" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Community Radio Tool for Empowernment"]Community Radio Tool for Empowernment[/caption]

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