Govt. plans to simplify clearances for community radio ventures

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy today told a parliamentary panel that the government is considering putting a time limit for clearance of community radio projects in the country.

Briefing the Consultative Committee attached to the ministry, Reddy said that his ministry proposes to ensure that there is a time-bound clearance by various government agencies and ministries for community radio services.

Pointing out that such socially relevant projects get mired in clearances, thus delaying them, Reddy said there's only one such service operational in the country at the moment at Anna University in Chennai. The minister opined that there is scope for 4,000 community radio stations in the country.

The parliamentary panel was informed that, as on date, a total of 60 applications had been received. Out of these, 38 eligible applications had been sent to other ministries concerned for clearance while letters of intent had been signed in 26 cases and licence agreements signed in 10 cases.

Reddy's fellow parliamentarians had expressed concerns about the funding ability of the community/organisations in far-flung and remote rural areas, since such services are run on a no-profit basis.

Consultative panel members also expressed concern over the restriction of advertisement time at the rate of four minutes per hour leave little chance of generating adequate funds to run such radio stations. Some members felt that even the original start up cost of Rs 400,000- Rs 1 million may not be possible for rural communities and the government should come out with initiatives to support such ventures.

Coming up with a pragmatic solution to the funding problems, one of the members suggested that each MP may support at least two community radio stations in his/her constituency from the fund made available by the government for spending in their respective constituencies for developmental work.

However, panel members suggested that adequate safeguards may be created to check any misuse of community radio stations.

The members who attended today's meeting included, Dinsha Patel, film star Dharmendra, Satyanarayan Jatiya, Hannan Mollah, S Sudhakar Reddy, Usha Verma, Bhartruhari Mahtab, P K Maheshwari, Vijay J Darda, E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, Ajay Maroo, film star Shatrughan Sinha, S C Chandran and Sanjay Raut.

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