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Arun Jaitley sticks up for community radio

I & B ministry has already approved 439 community radio stations around the country. A facilitation centre has been set up at Shastri Bhavan for new applicants

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | March 21, 2016

Arun-Jaitley Arun Jaitley

Union minister of finance, corporate affairs and information and broadcasting, Arun Jaitley, has championed the cause of community radio at a recent function, pointing out that such channels were gaining in popularity as a medium of communication.

Community radio stations are usually not run for profit and often espouse social causes, ignored by mainstream radio channels. The information and broadcasting ministry has so far given permission to 439 community radio stations around the country, of which 191 are already in operation. The ministry has opened a Community Radio Facilitation Centre at Shastri Bhawan, to streamline the process of approval for such stations.

“Community Radio as a variant of the medium had provided a value addition to the narrative by addressing the information needs regionally, addressing diverse status and issues and capturing the language, culture and social practices,” Jaitley said at the inaugural session of the Sixth National Community Radio Sammelan on March 18.

The theme of the three-day conference in New Delhi was ‘Community Radio in India: Towards Diversity and Sustainability’. The agenda for this year’s conference was a participative process. Feedback was solicited from community stations across the country.

The minister elaborated on the scope for expansion of community radio channels at the regional level. The medium has the power to connect with people at local levels, enabling exchange of experiences and programme content.

Jaitley said that the Union government would facilitate the medium with policies to spur growth in community radio stations. The minister also appreciated the efforts of community radio stations that were focusing on sustained campaigns on critical issues like health or education.

The Union minister of state for information and broadcasting, Colonel Rajyavardhan Rathore, who was also present at the event, elaborated on how community radio served as an important medium of communication, empowering people to connect with one another at a local level. Rathore pointed out that community radio could play an important role in dissemination of information about government schemes and policies in local languages, reaching out to all those people who had not received such communication through conventional channels like television or FM radio.

Rathore pointed out that community radio could help disseminate information about benefits of various government initiatives, such as the Mudra Yojna, Fasal Bima Yojna, and the Soil Health Card to the common man.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, ministry of information and broadcasting, Sunil Arora, said that community radio (CR) empowered all those who had no voice in traditional media. Community radio has empowered farmers, local fishermen and folk artists, who were able to reach out to their communities through programmes at these localized radio stations.

Jaitley and Rathore felicitated winners of the Fifth National Community Radio Awards. The award for the most creative/innovative programme content went to ‘Radio Benziger’ from Kerala for ‘Sukrutham’. Other award categories included Programme with Best Theme, Community Engagement, and Promoting Local Culture. The Community Radio Compendium and Community Radio Map, illustrating community radio stations across the nation were released on the occasion.

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