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Let people have more control over community radio, says Indian govt

Feb 18, 2012

Communities should play a greater role in managing and operating community radio stations to strengthen grassroots voices, says Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary to the Government of India.

New Delhi: Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Minstry for Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, today called for greater participation of local communities in running community radio initiatives in India. She was addressing the opening session of the three day 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

Representatives of 111 Community Radio Stations (CRS) were present at the meet beginning 18 February, 2012, which will enable these representatives to place the challenges faced by their CRS before the government. These inputs will later inform government policies regarding CR. 

Highlighting the role of local communities, Sahu said, “Ownership and management structure of the permitted organisation should reflect community participation.” The radio programmes should be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community, she added.

Today, 126 CRS are operational in India, of which 78 belong to educational institutes, 38 to NGOs and 10 to KVKs/SAUs. Sahu also unveiled the CRS map of India. She pointed out that while states like Tamil Nadu had maximum number of CR stations, northeast India had only 2 CR Stations, located in the state of Assam. She called for initiatives to set up more CR stations in the northeast and in the atste of Rajasthan. 

Sahu belives CR to be a powerful tool for the empowerment of the marginalised. “To expedite the process of granting permission to set up radio stations, the Ministry has initiated monthly co-ordination meetings with concerned Ministries/Departments. This has reduced the pendency considerably,” she said while emphasising on the need to strengthen the CR movement. To facilitate the growth of CRS in India, the govt has planned 32 awareness generation programmes and capacity building workshop from the plan funds.  

One of the main challenges before the CR stations is irregularities in their funding, which then, hampers their successful operation and hence, their broader mission.  Speaking at the Sammelan, Minsiter of Information and Broadcasting, GoI, Ambika Soni said, “The Ministry has already sent a proposal for such a fund to be incorporated under the 12th Five Year Plan.” She added that till the time the fund is actually set up, the ministry may be able to help sustain community radio stations by providing them advertising for the Bharat Nirman campaign through Directorate of Advertising & Visual Publicity (DAVP).  

The Ministry will partner with OneWorld South Asia to enhance its radio content sharing platform, Ek Duniya Anek Awaz (EDAA), to enable CRS to freely accessible cross-lingual and cross-regional content. 

The 2nd National Community Radio Sammelan will also felicitate 15 CR stations, which, for the first time, will be awarded for their pioneering efforts in taking information and communication to the grassrots.

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