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Issue 1
December , 2006
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Government allows Community Radio Stations sans news broadcast

Source: Toxics Link, Date: December , 2006

In a move that has been widely welcomed for its potential to make governance more participatory and facilitate dialogue within communities, the Government of India has allowed setting up of Community Radio Stations by non-profit organisations and educational institutions.

Under the policy, license will be given only to a 'non-profit' organisation with at least three years social service to local communities and the Community Radio Station should serve specific local community.

Educational institutions are already covered under the existing policy, in force since December 2002, in the Community Radio Guidelines. This had allowed Indian civil society enough leeway to join hands with university broadcasters and start producing programmes.

A ministry release stated: "The Community Radio Station (CRS) should be designed to serve a specific well-defined local community and the programmes for broadcast should be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community."

The policy also defines the ownership of the radio station as: "It should have an ownership and management structure and is reflective of the community it seeks to serve and it must be registered under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose."

A major cause for discontent among civil society activists is the non-inclusion of news broadcast through these radios. Some feel that this would restrict the content to merely entertainment and awareness packages. Further the guidelines, particularly with regards to emphasis on localisation of the content, also indirectly takes away a community's freedom to decide on what they feel is important to them.

An interesting aspect of the policy is that it allows these radio stations to air advertisements up to five minutes in an hour-long broadcast. This will go a long way in facilitating self-reliance and independent functioning of the CRS's.

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