Indian Government gives green signal to community radio

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up by the union government has given the thumbs-up for community radio stations to operate in India. The GoM has proposed that universities, registered trusts, civil society bodies and NGOs be allowed to run such stations. It has also proposed a single window clearance system to authorise such networks, with the assurance that the requisite clearances will be provided within three months. The GoM has also proposed that community radios be allowed up to 5 minutes of commercial advertising for every hour of broadcast.

The possibility that the proposal may run into some trouble when put before the Cabinet does exist. Many private FM channels are supposedly displeased with the idea of having to face more competition. There are also concerns that community radios may be used by insurgent groups to compromise India's internal security. Those in favour of the proposal, however, say that this concept will start a revolution and empower rural India.

Columnist, author and visiting professor at Centre for Policy Research, B G Verghese says, "This operates at the grassroot level and once people can have access to this kind of information, you can put across anything to them, whether it is education or health. It's an absolute necessity. The twin towers have happened, there is no way you can stop it. They don't need community radio to do that."