| 20 Apr 2024
Sixth National Radio Sammelan was 'democratic and considerate'

MUMBAI: The information and broadcasting ministry offered to resolve a host of ills plaguing operations of community radio stations in the country, according to participants at the Sixth National Community Radio Sammelan held in New Delhi last week.

The annual Sammelan witnessed a huge turnout from community radio (CR) stations from across the country. Representatives of CR stations told that frequency overlapping and allocation issues are likely to be tackled on priority, as are issues of online bill payments by the stations.

As reported earlier (Click here to read the story) , the CR stations in India majorly face four issues - 

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

So, were these issues discussed a part of the three-day long Sammelan agenda? (Have a look at the agenda given below)

If sources are to be believed, the I & B ministry did touch upon all the issues. Radio Noida director Brahm Prakash told that the ministry assured the CRs that the frequency overlapping and allocation issues facing them would be resolved.  Apart from that, there will also be an online tracking option for the CRSs. This will be brought into practice to track various applications and bill payments, easier for the stations. 

"The online bill submission issue will also be resolved in due time as per the ministry. At, the moment the CRSs face a lot of issues related to online bill submission," stated Prakash. 

He further added that there were also demands for an increase in ad rates from four rupees per second to 10 rupees per second. The ministry has promised to look into the matter. 

In addition, the CRS - support fund scheme, under which a CR station can seek financial help, is likely to be made more liberal.

However, no time-frame has been locked for any of these issues, participants averred. 

Sanjay Chandekar of FTII Radio, Pune added, "The Sammelan also encouraged the CRSs to approach various ministries for the betterment of their radio stations."

The highlight of the Sammelan, according to Chandekar, was an open forum. "The CRS representatives were for the first time given an opportunity to share their experiences. The forum wasn't dominated by speakers."

Echoing his sentiments, Archana Kapoor of Radio Mewat, Haryana said, "The Sammelan was more democratic. But, the Sammelan is also a platform for learning. This time, we did not get the opportunity to learn much from foreign radio stations as they weren't invited."

Overall, though the Sixth National Radio Sammelan was an interactive one, it failed to spell out a clear road map for the CRSs.

Sixth National Community Radio Sammelan agenda

Day 1:

Community Radio – The year gone by

i)  Expectations from CR Sammelan 2016

ii)  Stock taking of ministry’s activities in year 2015-2016

iii)  Explain ground rules for participants

Central Ministries & State Govt Departments: An overview of their initiatives and the opportunity for the Community Radio sector

Best Practices on engagement with Govt on programming

(Open Session)

i)   Start-up India

ii)   Make in India

iii)  Digital India

iv)  Crop Insurance Scheme

Day 2:

Towards Diversity & Sustainability: An overview

Best practices in CR sector (Diversity)

The participants were divided into four groups in terms of

i)   Diversity in Community

ii)   Diversity of Culture

iii)  Diversity of Voices

iv)  Diversity in Issues

Best practices in CR sector (Sustainability) 

i)   Financial sustainability

ii)   Content sustainability

iii)  Technical sustainability

iv)  Personnel and Governance sustainability

Day 3:

Experience sharing by award winning stations

Challenges & Way Forward: Open house on day to day issues