DELHI: The move to waive spectrum and royalty fee on community
radio stations has come as a major relief for a sector that
was just beginning to find its feet, with just 132 stations
operational out of the 370 licenses issued by the Government.
is learnt that the Department of Telecom has decided to waive
the fee as it feels that the decision to hike the spectrum
fees for community radios by fivefold and to keep on hold
allocation of frequencies will have very serious damaging
repercussions on the development agenda of the government
and will stifle growth of community voices. It will also defeat
the agenda of inclusive growth.
move would help educational institutes, non-government organisations,
small communities and a gram panchayats many of whom
had received licences but had not been able to commence operations
in view of the high fee.
government had earlier this year said it was planning to raise
the spectrum fee for these stations from Rs 19,000 to Rs 93,000.
But community radio representatives met Telecom minister Kapil
Sibal, and a recommendation from the Information and Broadcasting
Ministry which has been pushing the CRS movement.
WPC had for last nine months stopped giving clearance to 166
new applicants. A senior official said it was examining whether
in wake of Supreme Courts verdict on 2G, the spectrum
fees for community radio was also needed to be auctioned.
I&B Ministry feels that community radio has been instrumental
in conveying the governments developmental schemes to
the last mile. Programmes on its flagship schemes have reached
to millions of new listeners because they have now been articulated
in local dialects.
Chabaria, Vice-President (North), Community Radio Association
of India said the waiver would definitely be a relief. She
also heads the Salaam Namaste Community Radio station, a unit
of the Institute of Management Studies, Noida. But some operators
feel the government should open avenues for advertisements
and there should be government grants for community radios.