Community radios losing their voice, says study

Community radios losing their voice, says study

File photo for representation.

Community radios, which play a significant role in educating people in villages, remote places and tribal hamlets, are dying slowly due to inadequate support from the government and the society, a study states.

Community radios, promoted and run by the communities, are a platform for the marginalised communities to promote social inclusion, to express their concerns, interests and needs. They also play a major role in bringing the people to the mainstream, by encouraging their active participation, by producing and broadcasting their own programmes. It is a place for them to meet and collaborate. They are a mode to educate and empower rural and tribal people, by conducting programmes useful for farmers, local students and women in villages. They promote skill training programmes, job training programmes, industrial working awareness programmes, etc.

D C Nanjunda, deputy director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusion Policy, Manasagangothri, UoM, said, “Due to inadequate information on running community radios, about funding systems available, on its use for community development, and on technology, community radios are slowly diminishing. Governments give a subsidy up to Rs 25 lakh, to start a community radio. However, it should be approved by about 10 to 12 governmental bodies that take years for the release of the money. Besides, there are a lot of issues after installation, like signal problem (that covers 10 to 12 km radius), lack of clarity in voice, lack of advanced instrument, etc, in tribal settlements and remote villages.”

Through the research findings, Nanjunda cites the options available to start and run radios. “Through grant-in-aid policy, government funding can be made to organisations like NGOs, for socially-oriented programmes like running a community radio. Another option could be through CSR grants of major firms. Even under pay-roll system, companies can sponsor a certain period of time by providing the radios with technically advanced systems and by paying salaries to those working in the radios,” he said.

There are 12 community radios on air in Karnataka, including the ones of Vivekananda Youth Centre in Sargur of Mysuru district, Sri Siddhartha Medical College in Tumakuru, Manipal Educational Institutions in Manipal and University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad.

A system like community radio, that runs for a cause, needs attention and proper institution from government and active societal bodies to keep it going. It can be an effective voice to the underprivileged communities of the society, he adds.