Thursday, March 31, 2016


  • Community radio is a radio service offering a third model of radio broadcasting in addition to commercial and public broadcasting
  • Community stations serve geographic communities and communities of interest. 
  • They broadcast content that is popular and relevant to a local, specific audience but is often overlooked by commercial or mass-media broadcasters. 
  • Community radio stations are operated, owned, and influenced by the communities they serve. 
  • They are generally nonprofit and provide a mechanism for enabling individuals, groups, and communities to tell their own stories, to share experiences and, in a media-rich world, to become creators and contributors of media.

Why in news ?

The government will facilitate the growth of community radio in the country to effectively convey its messages to the poor and rural areas, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday (29 March, 2016).

Factual Data !

  • 191 community radio stations are currently working in INDIA and more than 400 new stations have been permitted (while a smaller nation like Nepal has 260 Community Radio Stations ! )
  • Anna FM was India's first campus "community" radio station. Launched on 1 February 2004, it is run by the Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EM²RC); Anna university community radio pioneered by Dr. R Sreedher is a shining example of a real community based radio in a campus. Programmes are produced by students as well as community. 

Benefits of Community Radio ?

  • Community radio could play an important role in dissemination of information about government schemes and policies to the common people in local languages, which was not possible through conventional mediums of mass communication as television.
  • India is a land of diversity in terms of language, social practices, dialects and culture, a community radio can be a powerful tool to revive culture and languages that are dying.
  • It can help give voice to the voiceless in the backward community.

Some examples of Community Radio Stations and how they can help in welfare of the people !

·  NGO will launch a community radio for the fisher community in Rameswaram. The NGO, Nesakarangal Trust, plans to launch the community radio -- Kadalosai 90.4 FM -- on April 14.

It would be a typical FM radio packed with lifesaving information and entertainment.The NGO, which works among fishermen, has obtained licence from the central government to launch the community radio.The radio station will be manned by local youth from fishermen community with a couple of volunteers being trained by experts.The content of the programme will include both entertainment as well as vital information for fishing community -- weather, fish movement, state and central government schemes to fishermen community, job opportunities and entrepreneurship guidance.The community radio will also broadcast programmes on marine ecology of the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait sensitising farmers about the endangered marine species, conservation effects.Weather forecast might change suddenly and there will be no way of getting the information. Radio is useful tool in such case. Moreover, when a fishing boat strands mid-sea and fails to return shore, SOS could be sent via radio station to other boats in the vicinity

  • Community Radio in a Rajasthan Village Is Using the Internet to Empower 50,000 Lives
Every morning at 7 am, about 40,000-60,000 people in and around the village of Tilonia in Ajmer district of Rajasthan, turn on their radio transistors and tune into 90.4 FM to listen to Norat Mal and Aarti Devi’s broadcast.The village’s relationship with Tilonia Radio started on November 9, 2009, when Norat, who belongs to Tilonia, was helped by frugal community radio expert Raghav Mahto and four other men and women from Tilonia in setting up a makeshift broadcasting studio in Barefoot College’s Tilonia Craft shop.

The idea to set up a community radio station was suggested by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan founder Aruna Roy and late journalist Ajit Bhattacharya, and its set up was facilitated by Digital Empowerment Foundation Founder-Director Osama Manzar. The thought behind setting up the station was to share the rich collection of audio/visual archive and social message-driven puppetry with a wider population that was not just restricted to Tilonia. 

Most recently, on January 12, 2016, a special event was organised in which several activists were invited to talk about pension, ration and NREGA. The event was part of an upcoming 30-episode broadcast series called Ab Ki Baar Mera Adhikaar.’

Facebook is a platform where harbingers of community radio have formed a community of their own. There are dedicated pages for various community radio stations that share content they have broadcast. If their content is applicable or useful for another region, it is picked up by the respective community radio stations. There is also a document on Google Drive where everyone can share open content. In this way, community radio stations get to share content with each other, which would otherwise not have been possible, and also create a larger sense of community. The community radio content that was otherwise available for a population within the 15 km radius becomes available and useful for people across the country through the Internet.


Radio Mewat was launched on September 1, 2010, in Nuh, Haryana, by an NGO-Seeking Modern Applications for Real Transmission (SMART).  It broadcasts four hours a day and reaches out to over five lakh people in a radius of 25 kilometres.

Mewat is a backward area, faring very low on all social indicators, with the literacy rate at an abysmal low of 24 per cent.  Only 5 per cent households have a television set.  Educating people about the very concept of a Community Radio was a Herculean task.  Station has a tough job popularizing the radio station in a district where elders are suspicious of any new idea and are very protective towards their women folk.  Also, there are power outages for days together.  Morover being in the interiors, it is difficult to get experienced people to work on a regular basis.

The biggest success of Radio Mewat has been in the revival of the dying art form of ‘Mirasi’.  Mewat is well known for its Mirasis, the Muslim folk signers who can narrate epics like the Mahabharata.  These Mirasis are the symbols of religious tolerance.


The main issues which stand as a hindrance to setting up of a community radio station  ?

1) Funding
2) Programming
3) Technology
4) License renewal

Issue of Funding 
  • lack of adequate funding appears to be a huge threat to the existence of these stations. Most of these stations are run by NGOs and Not-for-Profit organisations, relying heavily on government support.
  • The lack of local ads too has a lot to do with programming on CRS. The community radio stations are only allowed to play local folk music and talk about issues in their region. They cannot air news or play the usual Bollywood numbers like the FM stations.
  • Government funds the stations only when the air what they are asked to. They are expected to air the prime minister’s address, ‘Mann Ki Baat’ and various other government programmes. If they don’t air these, they wouldn’t be funded. And local advertisers won’t advertise on these stations because the reach is limited.

Issue of Technology
  • A CRS is allowed a 50-watt power transmitter at the moment, but these transmitters work differently for CRS in different regions. In a hilly terrain, the 50-watt transmitter may not work as well it would in the plains where there are no obstructions.
  • In some places, the villages too are at a huge distance from each other. In such cases, one would need more power to reach out to the villages. The government needs to consider these points.

Issue of tedious process
  • The CRS owners have to also go through a tedious renewal process, allege those running them. As per I&B Ministry website there are 188 operational CRS in India while, they have received 1806 applications. The 188 stations include a lot of pending renewals. There are major issues like renewal of licensing that need to be discussed, but they are usually pushed under the carpet.

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