Instead of “propaganda of different types which indoctrinates people”, sustained campaigns by media on issues like healthcare can play a major role in educating the public, Union Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister, who also holds the Finance portfolio, was speaking at the 6th National Community Radio Sammelan, where channels were awarded for innovative programming.
“Instead of having propaganda of different types which indoctrinates people, if you have sustained campaigns of this kind, which will drill into the human mind the healthcare, preventive health care system, radio can become a very powerful tool of education,” Jaitley said, referring to a community radio station which won for its health campaign.
The Minister said in India dialects, weather, crop patterns change in every district and the role of community radio stations in informing and educating people gains importance.
Globally, he said, newspapers are shrinking but in India regional newspapers are expanding. The same trend could apply to community radio as well, he said.
Jaitley said that around 191 community radio stations are functioning though around 400 have been permitted. “Therefore, there should be a significant growth and connectivity as far as community radio is concerned,” he said.
The I&B minister said that about two decades ago, an “erroneous impression” that the entire system including governments had was that radio and TV are monopoly of state.
The trend, he said, had to change as people just can’t be fed with state controlled or public broadcasting controlled radio and television only, though these too have an important role.
The situation changed when airwaves were thrown open and ownership was vested in the people after which there was an “explosion” of TV channels and a large number of FM channels came up, he said.
Jaitley said that at one point it appeared TV had taken centrestage but with expansion of FM, radio is back with a bang.
Earlier speaking at the event, Minister of state for I&B Rajyavardhan Rathore said community radio can play a vital role in empowering people by giving information including that on key government programmes.
I&B secretary Sunil Arora said that the ministry plans to scale up its support to community radio stations.