Fund-starved community radio stations (CRS) can raise a toast. Addressing a long felt need, the government has raised its audio-visual publicity department’s (DAVP) advertisement rate of Re 1 per second to Rs 4 per second for CRSs who have expectedly applauded the decision.
Announcing the decision at the Second National Community Radio Sammelan, information and broadcasting minister secretary Uday Kumar Varma said: "We have approved the hike in DAVP ad rates for CRSs from Re 1 to Rs 4."
Last year, during the First National Community Radio Sammelan, I&B minister Ambika Soni had promised to revise the rate from the Re 1 per second rate which she termed "shameful".
R Sreedhar, a leading expert on community radio, happily worked out the numbers. "At 5 second slots for advertisements per minute and at Rs 4 per second, ad revenues will come to about Rs 1200. And at 10 hours a day, it will fetch us Rs 12,000 a day. In a month, the revenues will be Rs 3,60,000. More than enough.”
“The new rate is certainly better than the Re 1 we used to get earlier. But just increasing it does not help CRSs, they should also be included in the media plans of the various ministries. CRSs should also have a small percentage that is kept aside for government advertisements,” said Archana Kapoor, who runs Radio Mewat, which has been awarded the community radio sustainability award. Only 10 of the 126 CRSs in the country are profitable ventures.
Yet even this rate will be a huge fillip for the sustainability of a medium that has been full of promise and often touted as the medium that will usher in the next revolution in mass communication in the country.
“There is no better way to empower communities than through CRSs. It is the cheapest way to reach out to the hard-to-reach communities on a wide range of subjects that can be used for their own development,” added Kapoor.
The government is already adopting a proactive stand to facilitate CRSs across the country because of the societal relevance and purpose the medium serves and very often serving as the only voice for the marginalized.
The government is also working on a dedicated fund for development of community radio stations with a Rs 170 crore corpus. This fund will provide seed money to community radio stations during the 12th Plan period. Another proposals being worked out is using funds from the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).