Community radio movement to inform and empower people in rural, backward and remote regions of the State is set to be expanded to cover majority of the districts within the next one year.Currently, there are seven functional community radio stations in Jagatsinghpur, Khurda, Konark, Kandhamal, Nuapada, Koraput and Daspalla besides two run by Ravenshaw University, Cuttack and SOA University, Bhubaneswar.
Two more radio stations are soon going to be launched in Bhadrak and Jajpur respectively while 25 others are in the offing.However, sustainability of the radio service, which can be a potent tool for providing information directly at the doorsteps of the target audience, continues to be a major impediment. The Union Government has committed to simplification of processes and regulations for Community Radio Stations (CRS’) and is also working on introduction of a single-window digital system for speedy licensing but lack of revenue generation model for the stations is hindering growth, the service providers have rued.
“CRS movement is in a nascent stage in Odisha as we have applicants only from 19 districts. There have been no applications from backward districts like Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Mayurbhanj, Rayagada and even relatively developed districts like Jharsuguda and Ganjam because sustainability of the radio service is still a big issue,” said secretary of the newly formed Community Radio Association (CRA) Pradip Dutta.
Community radio empowers masses in remote areas where mainstream media has not reached. The Government must come forward to not only improve content of community media, which will fulfil the aspiration of people, but also ensure a revenue stream for the stations, CRA president NA Shah Ansari stressed.
As per Union Government rules, CRS can run advertisements and promotional items for five minutes in an hour. They have also been permitted to broadcast Government advertisements at DAVP rates. “Most of these radios are located in remote areas where scope for generating revenue to run them is very few which is why there is a greater need to support them,” Dutta said.
The State Government, on its part, has committed support to the CRS movement in Odisha. Though there is no policy regarding advertisement in radio barring All India Radio currently, steps would henceforth be taken to share Government news with all CRS’ across the State to reach more people, Information and Public Relations department Secretary Madhusudan Padhi said.The association also held a consultation on content generation, sustainability, networking, Technology, Policy and resilience building.