Raghav Radio in remote parts of Bihar, closed for running without license, may rise again. The new community radio service policy allowing NGOs and bodies associated with farming activity may give new life to Raghav Radio. The policy recommending slashing the license fee by half would be considered by the Union Cabinet shortly.
For over three years, Raghav Mahto’s station, ‘Radio Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1 channel’, had been beaming popular programmes from Mansoorpur village in Vaishali district. The station aired music and local news and views to hundreds of people in and around the area. After the channel was closed, last year, people have collected money to support Mahto’s invention.
The collected money may be enough to run the community radio as I&B ministry’s has proposed to charge only Rs 25,000 as license fee for a period of 10 years as compared to Rs 50,000 in the earlier regime.
The ministry seeks to widen the scope of community radio to nook and corner of the country and in it, Mansoorpur, may get its local radio channel back. “We will support local community channels which provide information and in interactive in nature,” a ministry official said.
So far, only educational institutions are allowed to run community (campus) radio centres. Jamia Millia Islamia and Osmania University are some of the educational institutions that are running community radio.
The limitations of the present policy can be gauged from the fact that the ministry has issued only 17 licenses for community radio stations in the past two years whereas over 100 licenses for FM radio have been granted.
Once the Cabinet approval comes, scope of community radio is expected to widen. “We want it to grow bigger than FM radio as it is community specific and can help in raising social issues. The NGOs will be the biggest beneficiary of the new policy,” an official said. Any trust or society can also apply for the license but it should not be political or religious in nature. However, all applications are mooted through the Union Home Ministry.
In a bid to financial sustain the community radio channel; the ministry has proposed to allow advertisements to meet the running expenses. But, the revenue generated cannot be for commercial gains, he clarified.
Officials also say that the new policy will also be applicable to 59 applicants to whom I&B ministry has already issued a Letter of Intent and waiting allocation of frequency.
In the meantime, the I&B ministry has, however, ruled out the possibility of allowing news content on FM channel in near future.
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