| 01 Jul 2022
TRAI recommendation for CR on extension, ads from various agencies, news and more

MUMBAI/ NEW DELHI: Community Radio Stations (CRS) and Private radio stations seem to be sailing in the same boat when airing news is concerned. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended that community radio stations be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs sourced from All India Radio (AIR).

Speaking to, Community Radio Association (CRA) national president Kandarpa Das said, "Stations should be allowed to air local news as AIR will only broadcast national news which might not help the community where the community radio station is based. The decision should have been empowering which clearly was not. TRAI should have considered the need for localisation of news."

TRAI stated that CRSs should be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs content, sourced exclusively from AIR, in its original form or translated into the local language/ dialect. It will be the responsibility of the CRS permission holder to ensure that the news is not distorted during translation.

The recommendations made by TRAI to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry include that the licence period remains the same for a period of 5 years with the possibility of a five-year extension.

In the recommendations made relating to CRSs in the country, TRAI has said CRS seeking extension should submit an application and verification to the terms and conditions of the permission in the fourth year of operation.

CRSs should be allowed to take advertisements from other sources to encourage self-sustainability and enhance the CRSs’ relevance to the community, and the stipulation that Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity approved rates are their lowest rates and cannot be offered to any other agency should be relaxed.

TRAI had asked I&B to develop a performance evaluation format in consultation with stakeholders and place it in the public domain.

CRSs applying for extension beyond ten years should submit the performance evaluation report, duly filled in, along with their application one year before end of the permission period. The application for extension will be considered along with other fresh applications, if any. The same procedure will be adopted for all applications for extension beyond ten years of operation.

The duration of advertisement on a CRS should continue to be five minutes per hour.

The Ministry should establish an online 'single window’ system that will reengineer and integrate the entire process from the stage of filing application with MIB; grant of the Wireless Operating Licence (WOL) by WPC and signing of the GOPA. The online system must provide feedback on stage and status of the application in accordance with the time-lines already prescribed by the Ministry.

As on 1 July 2014, 200 Grant of Permission Agreements (GOPA) have been signed. Of these 170 CRSs are operational, 101 CRSs of which are run by educational institutes and universities, six by Krishi Vigyan Kendras and the other 63 by civil society organisations. Currently, CRSs in rural and remote areas are generally being run by NGOs and campus CRSs by educational institutions mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.

TRAI recommendations are in response to a letter sent by the Government in January. As validity of GOPA for some CRSs had already expired on completion of five years, TRAI suggested interim measures on 23 January. TRAI also issued a Consultation Paper on the subject on 21 May.