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News |  11 Feb 2013 | by RnMTeam

Allocation of Rs 1 billion proposed for community radio during 12th Plan

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NEW DELHI: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has proposed to earmark Rs 1 billion for development of community radio stations in the Twelfth Five Year Plan, of which Rs 900 million will be for grants or aid to help the CRS movement in the country.

Giving this information at the Third Community Radio Sammelan in New Delhi, I&B Minister Manish Tewari said only Rs 100 million had been set aside for capacity building.He also said the proposal was that at least 500 more community radio stations should become operational during the Twelfth Plan.

Meanwhile, he said the Ministry had taken the initiative to promote the streamlining and simplification of Community Radio empanelment through Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity thereby ensuring that the empanelled stations got a fair share of Government advertisements. DAVP had so far allocated around Rs 60 million in commercial advertisements to CRS.

The Minister was speaking at the valedictory function of the Sammelan, at which he also gave away awards in five different categories to different CRS all over the country.

(Later talking to the media, the Minister admitted that while the Government was willing to permit CRS to broadcast news bulletins of All India Radio as was being done in the Third Phase of FM expansion, this would need Cabinet approval.)

At the outset, he said that permitting CRS to make their own news bulletins would create other difficulties. He gave the example of non-news television channels which he said managed to find different ways of giving news and the difference between the general entertainment channels and news channels was getting blurred..

He said that the CRS movement was very important in India today. While the Government had its organs for conveying its messages and programmes to the people, CRS could provide a two-way interaction by conveying what the people wanted. He said there was growing impatience and intolerance and people wanted to find a voice.

He said CRS could also highlight local issues that the government could then pay attention to. This effort has to be led by the community and not by the government, he added.

For his part, he said the Ministry had adopted a holistic approach to CRS. It wanted to work out a system to give assistance to new CRS to come up. He also wanted the CRS to draw up a code of ethics for themselves.  The Ministry was also working on its own relationship with CRS.

The Minister also elaborated on the efforts being made by the Ministry in coordinating relevant issues with the Communications & Information Technology Ministry with regard to better frequency allocation plan for the CRSs.

He said it was likely that the Department of Telecom would announce the spectrum waiver decision shortly.

The need to facilitate a vibrant business model was in the offing to ensure the sustainability of the movement.

Earlier Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) Supriya Sahu said the Ministry was very keen on promoting CRS and gave example of having cleared 53 CRS proposals in just 24 hours soon after Tewari had become Minister. She stressed the need for deep involvement of the community if the movement had to grow. She wanted the stakeholders to draw up a Charter for themselves to serve as a Code of Ethics.

The awards were given for thematic content (relevant to community), community engagement showing involvement of the community in the programme planning and execution, promoting local culture (preservation and promotion) incorporating local talent and tradition, most creative/innovative programme content to encourage CRS to devise new kinds of programming to convey development concerns of the community, and sustainability model showing innovative methods to generate revenue for self-sustenance. Three awards were announced for each category, comprising cash awards of Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively. However, only one sustainability model award was given.

Applicants can now apply online and track the status of their pending application through a Comprehensive Community Radio Management Information System. A Facilitation Centre has also been set up, with a Toll Free number (1800-11-6422) for providing information.

The Ministry has been organising intensive awareness workshops in various parts of the country to increase awareness about Community Radio. Thirty-seven workshops have already been organised so far. This year alone, nine workshops are being held at Dibrugarh (Assam), Agra (Uttar Pradesh), Mt. Abu (Rajasthan), Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu), Goa (Union Territory), Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh), Darjeeling (West Bengal), Orcha (Madhya Pradesh) and Vishakapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).