Si tratta comunque di cifre molto limitate per un fenomeno che in India sta letteralmente furoreggiando. La corsa alle licenze commerciali è frenetica, ma per le organizzazioni no profit la radio rappresenta ancora una opportunità poco praticata. Forse perché le regole, pur essendo state rese meno stringenti due anni fa, restano piuttosto severe. Partiti politici, condannati per reati penali e organizzazioni non autorizzate non possono chiedere licenze comunitarie, che sono state pensate soprattutto per le scuole e le ONG. Ma una stazione attivata può fare solo cinque minuti di pubblicità ogni ora (giusto per coprire i costi) e non può accettare sponsorizzazioni se non da agenzie pubbliche. Sinora le autorità preposte a vagliare le richieste di licenza ne hanno ricevute poco più di 200 su scala nazionale.
Lukewarm response to community radio in state
9 Sep 2008,
BARAMATI: Even after a policy change in November 2006 by the government to allow non-governmental organisations (NGO) and voluntary organisations to set up community radios stations (CRS), there has been a lukewarm response to the concept in the state. Of the 34 CRSs operational in the country, only three are in the state, including two in Pune and one in Baramati.
The Supreme Court of India ruled in 1995 that "airwaves are public property". But initially, only educational (campus) radio stations were allowed, under somewhat stringent conditions. Following the judgement, in 2004, India's first community radio station, Anna FM, was launched. It is run by the Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EM²RC) and all programmes are produced by the students of media sciences at Anna University.
However, only three CRS in the state have been operational as against eight in Tamil Nadu, the highest in the country. This was highlighted at the regional two-day western region consultation on CRS organised by the Vidya Pratishthan's Institute of Information Technology in Baramati on Monday. Various officials of the Union ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) were present for the workshop. The workshop was also attended by individuals, NGOs and educational institutions from Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
According to B. Brahma of the MIB, "The awareness among people about CRS is very low. Most NGOs are ill-equipped and uninformed about community radio."
All the community radio projects in India have been grant-driven and locally broadcast. The greatest challenge will be for the NGOs running these stations to make them viable, rather than leaning on endless grants. The radio policy allows five minutes of advertisements for every hour of programming, barely enough to cover costs.
P.K. Bisnoi, director, broadcasting, who was also present at the workshop said, "After the government revised the policy, we received only 206 applications from across the country. We can only help issue the license, the rest the institute or NGO has to look into."
Under the new policy, political parties and their affiliates, criminal and banned organisations cannot apply for a CRS license. Challenges to launch the CRSs are many, which, together with a lack of awareness, are the main hurdles. Central funding is not available for such stations, and there are stringent restrictions on fund-raising from other sources.
Only organisations that have been registered for a minimum of 3 years and with a 'proven' track record of local community service can apply. News programmes are not allowed on community radio in India. Sponsored programmes are not allowed, except when the government is the sponsor.