The information and broadcasting ministry has asked the department of telecommunications to roll back its decision of a five-fold hike in spectrum fee for community radio stations.
I&B secretary Uday Kumar Varma has written a letter to the secretary (DoT) R Chandrashekhar, pointing out that Community Radio stations did not run for profits, so the decision to raise the spectrum fee should be reconsidered, official sources said on Saturday.
The DoT had earlier decided to increase the annual spectrum fee for community radio stations from Rs 19,000 to Rs 91,000. In his letter, Varma pointed out that the I&B ministry had not been consulted by the DoT before this fee hike was decided.
The five-fold increase in spectrum fee would have a crippling effect on the growth of community radio stations in the country as many organisations would find it impossible to meet this huge hike in charges, Varma said in his letter.
Community Radio is one of the focus areas of the I&B ministry which has also considered providing financial and other support to groups who can operate such Radio stations.
The I&B ministry, which has even instituted awards to promote community radio, feels that the increase in spectrum fee would send a negative signal to groups interested in setting up such stations.
Community radio groups have also been protesting the DoT decision to hike fee.
"This fee hike puts an unnecessary burden on Community Radio Stations which are struggling to make ends meet. Trai had in 2004 suggested that there should be no spectrum fee for community radio, which should be the case," N Ramkrishnan, general secretary of the Community Radio Forum of India said.