| 05 Aug 2021
Ambika Soni: DAVP rate hike for Community Radio being examined

* �Re 1 per minute rate shameful'

* �Community Radio Fund being considered'

NEW DELHI: Admitting that it was �shameful' that the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity had fixed a rate of just Re 1 per minute for advertisements on community radio stations, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today said a committee under the Economic Advisor of the Ministry was examining raising these rates.

Inaugurating the first National Community Radio Sammelan for operational Community Radio Stations in India here, Soni said the Ministry will also consider setting up a Community Radio Fund... on the model followed in several countries 

This issue would be taken up on high priority with key agencies such as the Planning Commission and concerned ministries. The setting up of such a fund would ensure the sustainability and enhanced outreach of the Community Radio Movement within the country. The modalities would be completed within a stipulated time frame 

Noting that the funds given to members of Parliament had been raised substantially under the MP Land Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), she said the Ministry would examine if a certain portion of infrastructural costs of setting up of Community Radio stations within constituencies of MPs could be met from these funds while not impinging on the freedom of the broadcaster. Once the proposal was examined and prepared, Soni said the concerned ministry - Ministry of Programme Implementation - would be approached to examine the merits of the case. At the same time, MPs would also be sensitized on the merits of setting up such institutions within their respective constituencies. Such a move would enable quality information to be given in a form, content, dialect and language which the people understood.

She said increase in DAVP rates would enable the operational radio stations to generate revenue from advertisements. She called upon the participating agencies to generate maximum revenue from advertisements and assured the support of DAVP in streamlining advertisements to this medium.

Speaking on the potential of the medium, Soni said the pro-active functioning of CRS ensured quality information on flagship schemes of the government to the people in a language and dialect they could understand. Similarly, it would also make the local community conscious of their rights and entitlement. As a medium of communicationS, it would engage the local communities with empowering information thereby leading to national integration, pride and identity. The goal of each CRS was to promote self esteem not only within the community but each individual. As part of the outreach process, the Ministry had undertaken a roadmap to create an awareness generation programme and since 2007, 28 state level workshops had been organized. The results had been quite positive as 216 new applications had been received in the last one year.

A poster exhibition inaugurated by Soni on the occasion profiles the operational proficiency of the functional community radio stations in the country. It also profiles the Broadcast content of each radio station, the capital and sustenance profile, and lists the success stories of each participating institution. Approximately 68 functional radio stations are participating in the exhibition 

As part of the Sammelan, the Minister presented four awards for exemplary work in the work of CRS: Thematic Award to Rudi No Radio - community radio operated by the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Ahmedabad, who also received the prize in community engagement. Bundelkhand Radio operated by Development Alternatives won the award for promoting local culture, and Radio Active operated by Jain University, Bengaluru won the award of sustainability business model. A map of functional community radio stations and a Compendium of CRS was also released by Soni on the occasion.

Earlier welcoming the Minister, Director (Broadcasting) in the Ministry Supriya Sahu said the process of clearances of licences had been expedited 

Organized by the Ministry in association with the Commonwealth Education Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi from 7 to 9 April, the meet will have discuussions would on issues concerning Policy changes in the existing Community Radio Guidelines, quality of content being broadcast from the Community Radio Stations, strategies to engage community in programme production, funding and sustainability, encouraging and popularizing local cultural talent etc 

The consultation has brought together community broadcasters and other key stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations, media activists, academia and the policy makers to take stock of the achievements of this burgeoning sector of radio broadcasting in India, and explore ways to take this movement to the next level.

The consultation seeks to analyse, assess the current Community Radio Policy in achieving the goals of disseminating information, strengthening grass-root democracy and fulfilling social development objectives and discuss issues of financial & social sustainability of Community Radio Stations. The discussions will help design joint action strategies and define the role of organizations such as UNESCO, CRF, CEMCA, various Government Departments and other partners in strengthening the CR movement.

The outcome from the consultation is expected to focus on enhancement of stakeholders' coordination in their effort to make community radio sustainable and more effective partner in development; increasing the scope of collaboration between organizations working on developmental issues; and furthering the use of new media and innovative/appropriate technology in the community radio sector.

The Sammelan has brought together 107 functional Community Radio Stations from across the country, Policy makers from various Government Departments like Health, Rural Development, Information Technology, Science and Technology, Agriculture, Panchayati Raj, CAPART etc  Several UN, National and other International organizations like UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, One World Asia, AMARC, Community Radio Forum etc. are also participating in the Sammelan.