Community radio stations may get support scheme

For development:Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, inaugurating a Community Radio Station in Kotagiri on Saturday. -Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy  

Provisions have been made in the 12th plan to implement a support scheme to extend financial assistance for the setting up community radio stations (CRS), said Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, at Kotagiri on Saturday. She was launching ‘Radio Kotagiri’, the first community radio station in the Nilgiris.

Pointing out that the promotion and development of CRS is a thrust area for the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, she said that since the initial cost worked out to about Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh, it had been decided to give funds for capacity building, survey etc and also extend a helping hand for dealing with contingencies like equipment malfunction.

Describing the community radio as a powerful instrument of social change, she said that unlike the conventional radio or the television, it is, “by the people and for the people”. It can influence changes for the better among individuals and communities.

Including Radio Kotagiri, there are now 147 CRSs in the country and the maximum number of 23 is in Tamil Nadu. Other States with a significant number of such stations are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Pointing out that about 400 permits have been given for starting community radios, Ms. Sahu said that the number of stations will go up soon. The first station in the North-East was inaugurated recently. Stating that workshops are being conducted to enhance awareness about the concept, she said that 37 have been organised so far.

In order to make them sustainable, advertisements are given by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity, a nodal agency of the Central Government at the rate of Rs. 4 per second.

Listing the programmes that can be broadcast, she said that the possibilities are endless but operators should be constantly on guard against introducing content that may have adverse impact on the community. An annual spectrum fee of Rs. 19,700 would be levied. Ms. Sahu hoped that Radio Kotagiri would become a model.

K. Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director, Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited, said that CRS is an effective tool for development.

Pratim Roy, Director, Keystone Foundation, which has promoted Radio Kotagiri said that it will inter alia drive home thought-provoking messages from indigenous groups to various sections of the community. N. Selvi, Additional Coordinator, Keystone Foundation, proposed a vote of thanks.