| 28 Feb 2024
Govt. invites applications for financial assistance for community radio stations, subject to scrutiny

NEW DELHI: More than a year after notifying the guidelines for financial assistance to community radio stations (CRS), the Government today said applications for providing financial assistance for procurement of equipment/emergency grant will be accepted from eligible organisations throughout the year.

In a note on its website regarding receiving of application from Operating Community Radio Stations/ Letter of Intent (LOI) Holders for Financial Assistance, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (I&B Ministry) said, however, that applications would be scrutinised in chronological manner.

Interested Community Radio Stations/LOI holders may apply in prescribed format according to their convenience. In this regard, detailed guidelines and a prescribed application form are available on the Ministry’s website.

The scheme was announced by former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, about a new plan scheme with an allocation of Rs 100 crore to promote community radio stations.

The scheme ‘Supporting Community Radio Movement in India’ for providing financial assistance to Community Radio Stations under the component ‘Community Radio Support Scheme’ (CRSS) under the 12th Plan, is aimed at strengthening new and existing CR Stations with resources, capacity and technology. This is being done so that CRSs can provide access and a voice to marginalised communities; promote growth of CRS, especially in remote and rural areas, so that people living in these areas can have access to a meaningful medium of broadcast; and promote socio-economic and cultural development of communities as CRS is a powerful medium for social mobilisation.

The Ministry, while issuing the Guidelines, had noted that the problem of lack of financial resources for CRS exists all over the world.

The Ministry said in spite of several efforts to streamline the permission process, the growth of Community Radios in the country has ‘somewhat remained moderate’. The number of operational CRS in India at present is ‘rather disappointing keeping in view of its size and population’.

One reason for the slow growth in this sector can be attributed to lack of resources with Non-Government Organisations to meet the capital cost of setting up CRS and hand holding. Their capacity to mobilise resources is extremely limited. It is perhaps time to think of a mechanism to channelise financial assistance to genuine grass roots organisations to enable them set up CRS.

Community Radios in India were started after the first policy for Community Radios was approved in the year 2002. This policy allowed only Educational Institutions to set up Community Radios. This policy was broad-based in 2006 when gross-roots organisations like NGOs and other Not-for-Profit organisations were also allowed to set up Community Radios in India. This policy brought a paradigm shift in the Community Radio Movement in the country.

So far, only UNICEF and UNESCO had supported selected organisations in the recent past to meet the capital cost of the equipment and the machinery. Funds have also been provided to meet the running expenditure. However most of this funding has been in the form of pilots and demonstration.

The Scheme will support 100 new CRS and 30 existing operational community radio stations each year. Under the scheme, a total of at least 650 grants are likely to be made over the 12th Plan Period (2012-2017).