CCR: Introduction to Community Radio
Course Code: CCR. BJM 001
All questions carry equal marks.
1) Discuss the objectives of community radio.
Community radio is confined to a small geographical area. It depends on low power transmission covering not more than 20-30 km. radius. It serves a community which uses common resources for livelihood, has common development issues and concerns, which are relatively localised, nevertheless connected to national and regional dcvelopment goals.
Communities are not monolithic units. They consist of people with different positions, individual/community priorities and varied approaches to their diverse questions and their solutions. There are also different levels of connectors and catalysts within communities. The community radio provides a platform for all segments of population to discuss common issues fiom different viewpoints in a positive atmosphere. What is sought out is a common good. All members of the community have to discipline themselves when participating in
the programmes of community radio. They are expected to follow certain norms prescribed by the code of conduct of the radio station.fn effect, community radio trains the community members in a very practical way for democra% behaviour. The community radio mode provides opportunities to project and discuss the community’s common issues, helps promote a sense of belonging among community members and strengthens the community bond
among individual members. That is precisely why community radio, with the prime objective of promoting democratic discussions within the community and providing opportunities for divergent viewpoints is
needed. The code of conduct established by many community radio stations emphasises that “programming should maintain a balance that properly reflects the differing interests of the various majority and minority sectors in the community.” Community radio can facilitate contextualising national development programmes within
the immediate community and taking national development goals as close as possible to the intended beneficiaries. Through community radio, members are able to feed-forward on local development concerns, giving an opportunity for development agencies and authorities to get involved in a constructive dialogue on development priorities at local levels. Similarly, the community radio provides opportunities to the community to make reiterative
evaluation of programme implementation and eventually to make development inputs more relevant and efficient. This transparent process makes the community rely more on an integrated national system in which the degree of power sharing between the centre and the periphery is understood by each other.
Community radio is just one important element of the media channels. There are national and global level media reaching the communities though they do not provide access for and participation of the community. Nonetheless, the community media provide an opportunity to interpret the overall national media content with a local flavour.
In addition, community radio can present programmes based on what is disseminated by 1 national media. This would enable those who cannot afford to purchase newspapers or access I other national media channels, making the entire community aware of the national issues and programmes. Such a media environment not only makes them respond to the various national concerns, but also bonds them with the larger nationhood as they see the relevance of national issues and programmes within their immediate communities. Community radio operations have distinct characteristics which differ from commerciaI and national Public Service Broadcasters (PSB) in regard to its mission and service. Community radio does not compete with commercial and PSB, rather plays a complementary role.
But primarily, community radio is operated by and for the community and owned by the community itself. It is an empowering tool for the community. A nation consisting of empowered communities is more secure as they can make an equitable contribution to nation building. Community radio ideally should have a broad-based ownership, which is accessible to any member of the community. If established with well-developed guidelines, there is no possibility for one particular group of the community to dominate community radio operations and programmes. In any case, such domination cannot sustain wider audiences in a community where most people know each’other, and are easily able to discern group intentions, allegiances and partisan attitudes.
2) Discuss the Development of Community Radio in India.
The Community Radio was not legal in India till 2002. There had been a campaign by free speech advocates, academics and community members across the country to get the community radio legalized. The turning point was a 1995 ruling of the Supreme Court in which the honourable court said that the “airwaves are public property and must be used for the public good”. The ruling added that though airwaves are limited, they should be used with reasonable restrictions. The ruling also asserted that the right to receive and impart information is enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which describes the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
This 1995 ruling was the foundation stone of community radio in India. Immediately after the ruling came out, the civil society groups formulated and adopted a Bangalore Declaration, in which the need for a third tiers of broadcasting, i.e. community radio was articulated. This was followed up by a Pastapur Declaration in 2000 which reiterated the need for community radio and also asserted that it ought to be non-profit making, localized and community owned. These two declaration played important role in the development of Community Radio movement in India.
3) What is the importance of encouraging local talent in community broadcast? How will you identify local talent?
Community radio services typically cover a small geographical area focusing on the delivery
of specific social benefits to enrich a particular geographical community or a community of
interest. The community focus also means focus in individual talent, excellence and creativity.
Identifying local artists and genres of music and cultural performance in the communities
living within the transmission zone of the station is an exciting activity. It helps to make the
radio station popular among the younger generations and provides competition among
artists and performers for opportunity to broadcast their talent.
A Case Study
Anna FM in Chennai for instance, organizes an annual competition for Karnatak
music artists from communities. The artists perform on radio, the audience is invited
to vote their preferences and there is also a panel of experts who assess the
performance. The results are announced on Anna FM and all prizewinners given
special awards at a ceremony organized by the radio station. This exercise has
thrown up many talents from community children and also made Anna FM an
extremely popular as well as a respected radio channel in Chennai.
A community radio is expected to play a significant role in supporting, development,
and exposure of local talent. “Young minds – excited by new music and ideas,
willing to try new things – make for great radio.” The participation of the youth is
vital to any community radio and helps to build popularity much faster and also
offers wider pool of volunteers for running the station.
4) Highlight the salient aspects in the Community Radio license policy.
Supreme Court Judgment on Airwaves – 1995
The Supreme Court studied the situation very carefully and noted that it was “undoubtedly
unsatisfactory.” The Court said that this was “the result of legislations in this country not
keeping pace with the technological developments. While all the democracies in the world
have enacted laws specifically governing the broadcasting media, this country has lagged
behind, rooted in the Telegraph Act of 1885 which is wholly inadequate and unsuited to an
important medium like radio and television, i.e., broadcasting media. It is absolutely essential,
in the interests of public, in the interests of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed
by Article 19(1)(a) and with a view to avoid confusion, uncertainty and consequent litigation,
that Parliament steps in soon to fill the void by enacting a law or laws, as the case may be,
governing the broadcasting media, i.e., both radio and television media.”
Bangalore Declaration – 1996
Soon after the Supreme Court judgment on airwaves, a movement for demanding
community ownership of radio frequencies had started. A group of policy planners, media
professionals and civil society organizations gathered in Bangalore in September 1996 to
• study how community radio could be relevant in India. A ‘Bangalore Declaration’ was
signed, which became the basis of advocacy for community radio in India. Some years
later, in July 2000, UNESCO helped to organize a workshop on community radio in
Andhra Pradesh, in Pastapur and Hyderabad, where Deccan Development Society with
support from UNESCO, was already using community participatory methods and
narrowcasting for empowerment of dalit women. The ‘Pastapur Initiative on Community
Radio’ urged the government to create a three-tier structure for radio broadcasting in
India: public service radio, private commercial radio and non-profit community radio.
Community Radio Guidelines – 2002
In December 2002, the Ministry of Information &Broadcasting released its ‘Community
Radio Guidelines’ which allowed ‘well-established’ educational institutions to set up and
run community radio stations within their campuses. The guidelines allowed the educational
institutions to set up low power FM stations that could cover up to 10 kilometres radius.
News and current affairs programmes were not allowed on these campus/community radio
stations and advertisements were also banned. These radio stations were meant to serve
the student community as well as the larger community outside the boundary of the campus.
In accordance with this policy, the first Community Radio license was granted to Anna
University in Chennai. In February 2004, Anna University’s’ Anna 90.4 FM’ became the
first privately owned radio station to come up under a community radio policy.
Policy changes to include NGOs & Civil Society – 2006
As part of the process for developing a new Community Radio Policy, the Ministry of
Information & Broadcasting, in collaboration with UNDP and UNESCO, organized a
workshop on ‘Designing An Enabling Framework For Community Radio’ in New Delhi in
May 2004. During the workshop, over seventy media persons and other experts gave
their recommendations on Community Radio in India. Based on their recommendations, a
draft Community Radio Policy was drawn up by the government.
In the meantime, the Telecom Regulatory Authority ofIndia (the Broadcast Regulator)
also held parallel public consultations on Community Radio and submitted its
recommendations to the government in December 2004. TRAI recommended that any
‘legal entity’, including individuals and religious groups, should be allowed to apply for a
community radio license, and that news and current affairs programmes should be allowed
on community radio. TRAI also suggested that five minutes of advertisements per hour
shou Id be allowed on CR.
5) Compare Community Radio with Commercial Radio.
Commercial Radio is a radiostation that produces programmes for the masses. An example of a commercial radiostation would be BBC1 Radio, whilst the BBC does have various substations which are much more community based such as BBC Humberside or BBC Lincoln, BBC1 is a national radiostation whose signal reaches across the country. A Commercial station is much more likely to have a stronger signal because the stations programmes are designed to appeal to the masses, rather than just a small area or region. This is why Radio 1 (Based in London) will have a strong enough signal to reach much more nothern cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, because the station doesnt advertise solely local news, rather news which appeals to the masses. The music played aswell will often be chart music, again to use Radio 1 as an example, has programmes dedicated the the chart music with its ‘Big Top 40’ – a show which counts up through the 40 songs in the charts, this is something a smaller Community based station is unlikely to do.
Commercial Radio doesn’t nessecarily have to be part of a huge organization, such as Radio 1 to the BBC, Hulls ‘Viking FM’ is an independent station which began in 1984, the station is Independent however whilst it remains a Commercial Station it is much more Regional, operating within East Yorkshire. The station will still have programmes such as ‘Big Top 40’ and will also talk about events happening in the world however the news it tells will be much more national than local. Viking FM however also does promote events happening locally, mainly within the East Yorkshire region, in the Hull,Beverly,Cottingham regions. Such as small concerts within the vicinity of its broadcasting range.
Community Radios largest difference with Commercial is that all the work done on the station is volunteer work. None of the presenters on the station are paid for their time on air, which means that a lot of the Community stations have numerous presenters which maybe do 2 hours a day, 2-3 days a week, the money these presenters make is often work they do outside of the station, a second job for instance, or selling advertisements for the Community station. An example of this being WHCR FM, based within Hull, this station is owned by Goodwin, a much larger organization which has sectors based within over areas. To get into Commercial radio, many presenters will have to work freely in Community Radio for a significant amount of time and maybe scouted by listeners or after sending demos of their work into the bigger Commercial stations. As mentioned some presenters make money selling advertisements, for a Community station to run it needs the advertisements to run as well as the donations from the public and events held by the station to make money. The money cannot solely come from advertisements and is set at a limit of 50% which means, for example if a station were to cost £5000 a year to run, the station could make £2500 off of advertising and then must make the other half from donations to the station and events/fundraisers the station does.