Government keen on Community Radio

NEW DELHI: The government is keen to encourage community radio and has already opened access to this sector to well established educational institutes, information and broadcasting secretary Pawan Chopra said today.

Chopra spoke at the inauguration ceremony of a two-day workshop on Designing and Enabling Framework for Community Radio in India, jointly organized by the I&B ministry and UNDP and UNESCO, here today. He offered that the opening up of radio as a medium of community communications reflects the responsiveness of the government to those who believe that this is essential for a homogeneous growth of society.

According to Chopra, the limited spectrum and growing number of players in the field of broadcasting had to be kept in mind while evolving new policy initiatives, aimed at popularising community radio.

Though Chopra touched upon the issue of security concern, he did admit that the development paradigm in India has always placed greater importance on mass media as an agent of public service and social change. "Pitfalls and constraints have to be born in mind, while encouraging expansion of community radio," he said.

In his comments, Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma said the expansion of community radio would supplement the public broadcasters efforts to reach to the masses and meet their aspirations. He said public broadcaster can help the prospective community radio operators by providing technical and infrastructure know-how.

The workshop would provide a platform to share the experiences of other countries and organisations and to come out with a policy framework that takes into account all the issues.

The basic purpose of the workshop is to study and share the experience of other stakeholders about successful community radio frameworks and practices, as well as to identify and brainstorm on key issues of concern while formulating a national policy framework on Community Radio in India.

The participants W Jayaweera of UNESCO, Dr Maxine Olson, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP president Representative, Prof M Tawfik, director and UNESCO representative, Brijeshwar Singh, director-general, All India Radio, Bharat Koirala from Nepal, Peter Rice from South Africa, Ashish Sen of Voices (a consumer group) , Dr R. Sridher of Anna University, K R P Verma, CMD of BECIL, Giles Tanner from Australia and Rakesh Kakar of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

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