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Indian social radio movement can learn from the global experience

Feb 19, 2012

Broadcasters from around the globe gathered at the 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan, organised by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to share their experiences and how to make the Indian community radio movement grow in a sustainable manner.

New Delhi: Experts from across the world debated on how to make community radio sustainable at the 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan, organised by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Sunday. Making community radio financially viable is important as this communication tool can be a driver for social change in a vast and diverse country like India.

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Chairing the session on ‘Global Perspectives for Community Media’, Ravina Aggarwal, Programme Officer, Ford Foundation, emphasised on increasing the participation of youth listeners to speed up the community radio movement. She added that CR practitioners can learn from the other experiences of other countries so that the movement can be carved out in a sustainable manner.

The second day of the community radio meet, saw a gathering of CR broadcasters from across the world. Lumko Mtimde, CEO, Media Development and Diversity Agency, Johannesburg, South Africa said, “For this sector to grow sustainably, the key is to create and enable a conducive environment, as this sector would not survive if we put it to compete with the market sales.”

Speaking to OneWorld South Asia on the development of community radio stations (CRS) in the USA, Jeff Rosenberg, Former Director, National Public Radio worldwide, said: “the CR stations in the USA have increased from 89 to 900, covering all the major cities of the country due to infrastructure funds being provided by the federal government to local broadcasters for technical assistance. But there is lack of the same fund being provided in India.” He also highlighted on the need to spread awareness about the crucial role that CR stations play as these reach remote areas.

Emphasising on community participation in CRS, MRJ David, CR expert, Sri Lanka said, “CR without participation is like a fish without water.” Presenting two models of CR stations in Sri Lanka, he said these work towards increasing awareness about the social realities prevailing in the community. Talking about another CRS, he said , “we have succeeded in converging the internet into the CR stations and thereby indirectly into the hands of the local people.”

Highlighting the important role community radio plays in the lives of the Australian population, 26 per cent of the Australians are avid listeners of their community radio stations every week, said David Sice, Technology Advisor, CR Association, Australia. He was drawing a comparison that India with its big population has a definite need for such a medium.

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