BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government has asked all the Collectors to form committees to monitor the contents of community radio stations (CRS).
In an order, the Information and Public Relations Department has directed all the districts to form monitoring committees comprising seven members including the Sub-Collector and SDPO. The panel will monitor the news contents of the community radio station operational in the area and intimate it to the Collector, a move which has drawn the ire of the entities which are operating such stations.
The Community Radio Association (CRA) of India has taken strong exception to the decision stating that it would curtail growth of community radio movement in the State. The Government is yet to have a community radio policy and does not even issue advertisements on that ground. Such intrusion will only defeat the movement which is at its nascence, president of the association NA Shah Ansari said.
There are nine functional CRSes, two of which are run by universities, in the State. Secretary of CRA PK Dutta said the move is aimed at stifling and harassing the community radios which are not permitted to broadcast any news content as per the licences issued to them. All the CRSes broadcast programmes on Government schemes, SHGs, agriculture and folk music and are forbidden to air news content, yet the circular speaks of tracking news content, he added.
The association felt that the move is aimed at strengthening the district administration to harass the CRSes since two of the members are very loosely defined. Though the Government admits the necessity of CRSes, yet it is trying to harass them.
Ansari said the radio stations are struggling as most of them are located in rural areas where avenues for advertisements revenue are very limited.
However, an I&PR Department official said the order has been issued basing on the directive of the Ministry of Home Affairs which had sought that news contents be tracked.