Though stations have largely worked out models for sustainability, many challenges remain

Though community radios have largely worked out a model for sustainability, the movement is still weighed down by challenges such as finding trained broadcasters, say those involved in the field.

R. Sreedher, a pioneer of the community radio movement, who likes to call himself a ‘community radio practitioner’, said the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), by providing advertisements, helps new radio stations and eases out issues of sustainability.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the south zone meeting of the Community Radio Association on Monday.

However, he said there were no real “community radio broadcasters” in the country. Comparing a community radio, which is run mostly by educational institutions and registered trusts, to a neighbourhood newspaper, he said community radios, apart from being for the community, must also be by the community.

“We need good broadcasters to train and involve communities to create their own programmes,” he said.

He recalled the first community radio station run by an educational institution was started in Anna University, in Chennai, in 2004. Community radio, he pointed out, has endless potential in empowering people from the grassroots and proving crucial at a time of a crisis.

“A housewife in Tiruchy who belonged to a low-income household became a station manager at a community radio station run by an educational institution, and there are umpteen such instances,” he said, adding that, with ingenuity, a community radio station could be set up with Rs. 3 lakhs, as has been the case in Thuvarankurichi near Tiruchy. “Where the communities are involved, there is real interest,” he said. He added that the movement might nosedive due to the delay in clearing applications by the telecom ministry, which also allots the frequency.

S. Soundararajan, secretary, Community Radio Association, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry chapters, pointed out that nearly one-fifth of the community radio stations in the country were in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

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