NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is planning to modify the guidelines for the community radio stations and make the process more friendly for private organisations.
Apart from private organisations, educational institutions including universities, institutes of technology, management and residential schools, state agriculture universities, krishi vigyan kendras, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutions, and NGOs can set up community radio stations across the country.
A study by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the internship, reach and effectiveness of community radio stations in the country showed stations managed by NGOs had more engagement with the community in comparison to other CRS categories.
The revision in the guidelines in 2018 on community radio stations said that applications of private institutions or organisations should be accompanied with the recommendation of district administration. Setting up of such stations for private institutions in left-wing extremism areas were also supposed to obtain security clearance from local administration.
The ministry is planning to hold a meeting with its stakeholders in order to discuss the tweaking of rules.
“The meeting will be held with other ministries, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, UNICEF, and federation of community radio stations, among other stakeholders. The letter is being sent out for the participation in the meeting in December where efforts will be made to make the process of registration less stringent for private organisations. Private organisations have appealed to the ministry regarding the process being less friendly for them,” said an official from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
“There seems to be very little interest in consulting the CR sector. Typically throughout the first decade of community radio in the country, especially when the guidelines were being formulated, there was a lot of engagement with activists and theoreticians working in the sector as well as those who were interested in setting up community radio stations. Currently, the engagement that has been happening is functional at best,” said N Ramakrishnan, founder-director of the Ideosync Media Combine.
The NGO CRSs sampled for the study by the ministry showed deep-rooted involvement with the community prior to the formal establishment of the station, which was not the case for an educational community radio station, except a few exceptions.
The performance of education community radio stations in terms of reach and listenership was found of the average category. As compared to the NGO-run stations, the reach and listenership of agriculture-related stations was found to be low.