`Sim­plify li­cens­ing sys­tems for com­mu­nity ra­dio'

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY -

VINOD PAVAR­ALA has been ad­vo­cat­ing com­mu­nity right over ra­dio waves. UNESCO's Com­mu­nity Me­dia Chair at the Uni­ver­sity of Hy­der­abad, Pavar­ala tells

what an ideal com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion should be and how gov­ern­ment can reg­u­late it well It has been more than 10 years since a pol­icy for com­mu­nity ra­dio was for­mu­lated. What are the new is­sues? If you look at the vast­ness and di­ver­sity of this coun­try, 170 sta­tions are hardly any­thing. You are look­ing at less than 20 sta­tions in a year. I think we need to look at the rea­sons that are slow­ing down the medium. The first rea­son is the elab­o­rate bu­reau­cratic pro­ce­dures that have been put in place for li­cens­ing. The gov­ern­ment has to sim­plify the pro­ce­dures and cre­ate a sin­gle-win­dow sys­tem. The sec­ond is­sue that needs a re-look is the con­tin­ued ban on broad­cast of news. What is com­mu­nity ra­dio with­out news? At present, a public in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion is un­der way on the is­sue and hope­fully the Supreme Court will per­mit broad­cast of news soon. The third is­sue is the pol­icy say­ing that no con­tent of po­lit­i­cal na­ture shall be broad­cast. Of course, the pol­icy does not de­fine pol­i­tics. But pol­i­tics is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing lo­cal. Re­cently, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced its plans to con­duct a lis­ten­er­ship sur­vey. What are your thoughts on this? I have heard of the lis­ten­er­ship sur­vey idea that the gov­ern­ment is float­ing. Its pur­pose is maybe to show the ef­fec­tive­ness and im­pact of com­mu­nity ra­dio on other wings of gov­ern­ment. But the sur­vey will not help com­mu­nity ra­dios get ad­ver­tise­ment. Lis­ten­er­ship sur­veys can give you some sense of what but of­ten they can­not an­swer ques­tions about the why. I think the why can be an­swered by qual­i­ta­tive re­search.

Com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tions by grass­roots or­gan­i­sa­tions of­ten face fi­nan­cial hard­ships. Will the new ` 100-crore scheme help? Fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity is the new buzz­word used at all com­mu­nity ra­dio events th­ese days. I know of NGOs who have large projects but their domain is pri­mar­ily not com­mu­nity ra­dio. Their domain might be sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture, lit­er­acy or chil­dren's rights and they get fund­ing for the domain. Now they are di­vert­ing a part of their fund­ing to run com­mu­nity ra­dio. I think this is a sus­tain­able model and more or­gan­i­sa­tions should look at it. This is im­por­tant be­cause the pos­si­bil­ity of com­mu­nity ra­dio sur­viv­ing only on ad­ver­tise­ments is un­likely. The gov­ern­ment should en­sure that the funds al­lo­cated un­der the Sup­port­ing Com­mu­nity Ra­dio Move­ment in In­dia scheme is ad­min­is­tered in­de­pen­dently so that it ac­tu­ally reaches the peo­ple. What would be the ideal model for a com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tion? The com­mu­nity ra­dio sta­tions that func­tion re­ally well are the ones that are rooted to a par­tic­u­lar so­cial or grass­roots move­ment. They are based on peo­ples' rights, ac­cess to re­sources and are not just a part of NGO ac­tiv­ity. Even if NGOs are get­ting li­cences, the con­tent should not be "NGOised".

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.