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News |  18 Jan 2013 16:37 |  By 

2013 to be a tough year for Community Radio stations

MUMBAI: Serving the special interests of different communities on an indirect platform, community radio (CR) stations play a very important role in India.Though the government has been working towards the progress of CR, the failure in implementing several decisions has led to a major loss.

With around 125 CRs currently operational in the country, the government had formulated many decisions last year to help fund them as most of the stations are non-profitable and earning revenues is one of the major issues restricting their survival. The government had announced a fund of Rs 50 lakhs and also approved to provide advertisements from DAVP to the stations for a period of one year; but broadcasters say that these decisions are yet to be implemented and the money has not reached them yet.

Speaking with, Jaago Mumbai station head creative & programming Nitin Makasare said, ôThe year was pretty neutral for most community radio stations. Though some relief was provided by the government through the CR fund and the DAVP ads, the money for both has not been released yet so its been of no use to us. We even went to Delhi, met the government officials and worked on the requirements, but it is yet to be processed by the government.ö

Inspite of a hand-to-mouth existence, Jaago Mumbai has managed to fare pretty well in 2012. The channel gained with its visibility increasing and even on-ground activations helping in engaging more listeners. Also with most mainstream brands and companies looking now to associate with the stations for campaigns and initiatives, the content and reach of the station is substantially growing.

ôThe station is developing and growing slowly. Some help has come from the government since we are non-commercial functioning platforms, but we still need more help from them and unlike in other countries, it is very much lacking in India. If you have funds its easier to manage, but otherwise we are all surviving through a hand to mouth existence,ö he commented.

Some of the major challenges still haunting the space include power and finances, apart from the governmentÆs laidback attitude. While the commercial radio stations have high power transmitters (10kw and above), community radio transmitters are very low power transmitters (100watt of effective radiated power) which results in a marketing problem for most CR.

Being very constrained in finances, the stations also face a manpower problem being able to afford only 5-7 members in the internal team. Community radio broadcasters state that while in 2012 they faced a financial crunch, 2013 is set to be another tough year with no funds coming in.

Echoing the grievances, Maksare highlighted, ôThe issue of finance and transmission still remains. We rarely managed to sustain ourselves last year and this year will be another tough one for us. Things need to change quickly and the government should help us. Right now, we are only trying to take care of our finances to survive the first quarter and only after that will we be able to come up with new strategies to sustain ourselves for the rest of the year.ö