Govt mulling community radio station funds: Soni
In what can be a giant step for the sustainability of the medium that gives voice to the voiceless and serves as the mouthpiece of the marginalized, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said the government is considering the setting up of a fund for community radio stations in the country. Sanjib Kr Baruah reports.delhi Updated: Apr 07, 2011 21:42 IST
In what can be a giant step for the sustainability of the medium that gives voice to the voiceless and serves as the mouthpiece of the marginalized, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said the government is considering the setting up of a fund for community radio stations in the country.
“International organizations like UNICEF, UNESCO and some countries around the world have created community radio funds. It’s something which is new for us. We should also look at it,” the minister said in her address to community radio stakeholders during the inauguration of the First National Community Radio Sammelan and Exhibition on Thursday.
Stressing on quick action, Soni had a word for I&B ministry bureaucrats too, “I would like them to be as forthcoming and quick in seeing how to get the Planning Commission or the Government of India or whoever it takes to create this concept of community radio funds in India.”
Terming the audio-visual publicity department’s (DAVP) advertisement rate of Re 1 per minute for such radio stations as “shameful”, the minister said, “The economic advisor of the ministry has been put in charge of a small group to work out what should be the rate for community radio ads.”
“And whatever you (community radio stations) generate, something the ministry will put in through DAVP.”
The minister suggested women-centric programmes so that half of the country’s population can be catered to, especially on issues like health, nutrition and flagship developmental schemes which can be presented in an attractive and interesting way. “The credibility of community radio stations is much more than what the government or any other organisation.”
At present, there are 107 functional community radio stations in the country of which 27 are run by NGOs, eight by farm associations and the rest by educational institutions. About 278 more Letters of Intent have also been issued by the I&B ministry. Soni pointed out that the I&B ministry has also quickened the process of getting clearances for operationalisation of such stations.
“But this is just the beginning, it is the idea which has to spread, and I have learnt the idea is spreading.”
The three-day deliberations involving community broadcasters, NGOs, academia and policy makers would be focus on policy, guidelines, content quality, strategies for greater community engagement, funding and sustainability, encouraging and popularizing local cultural talent etc and how to take community radio to the next level.