NEW DELHI: Even as the term of permission for community radio stations (CRS) should continue to be five years, the extension should also be for five years at a time.
In recommendations made relating to community radio stations in the country, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said CRS seeking extension should submit an application and verification to the terms and conditions of the permission in the fourth year of operation.
CRSs should be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs content, sourced exclusively from AIR, in its original form or translated into the local language/ dialect. It will be the responsibility of the CRS permission holder to ensure that the news is not distorted during translation.
CRSs should be allowed to take advertisements from other sources to encourage self-sustainability and enhance its relevance to the community, and the stipulation that Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity approved rates are their lowest rates and cannot be offered to any other agency should be relaxed.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry should develop a performance evaluation format in consultation with the stakeholders and place it in the public domain.
CRSs applying for extension beyond 10 years should submit the performance evaluation report, duly filled in, along with their application one year before end of the permission period. The application for extension will be considered along with other fresh applications, if any.
The same procedure will be adopted for all applications for extension beyond 10 years of operation.
The duration of advertisement on a CRS should continue to be five minutes per hour.
The Ministry should establish an online ‘single window’ system that will reengineer and integrate the entire process from the stage of filing application with MIB; grant of the Wireless Operating Licence (WOL) by WPC and signing of the GOPA. The online system must provide feedback on stage and status of the application in accordance with the time-lines already prescribed by the Ministry.
The National Disaster Management Authority in consultation with the I& B Ministry and WPC establish detailed guidelines for use of CRSs in disaster management operations. The guidelines should include the procedure to be followed in case relocation of an existing CRS is required or for the establishment of a new CRS in the disaster affected region.
As on 1 July 2014, 200 Grant of Permission Agreements (GOPA) have been signed. Of these 170 CRSs are operational 101 CRSs of which are run by educational institutes and universities, six by Krishi Vigyan Kendras and the rest 63 by civil society organisations. Currently, CRSs in rural and remote areas are generally being run by NGOs and campus CRSs by educational institutions mostly in urban and semi-urban areas.
The TRAI recommendations are in response to a letter sent by the government on 8 January. As validity of GOPA for some of the CRSs had already expired on completion of five years, TRAI suggested some interim measures on 23 January. TRAI also issued a Consultation Paper on the subject on 21 May.
The government announced its policy for the grant of permission for setting up of CRS in December 2002. Under those guidelines well established educational institutions, including IITs and IIMs, were permitted to setup CRSs.
In December 2006, the government revised the policy for CRSs, bringing non-profit community based organisations, apart from other educational institutes, within its ambit. Non-profit organisations like civil society and voluntary organisations, state agriculture universities (SAU), Indian council of agricultural research (ICAR) institutions, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, registered societies and autonomous bodies and public trusts registered under Societies Act or any other such Act relevant for the purpose, were permitted to operate CRSs.
The period of permission was increased three years to five years. All the operational CRS permission holders under the 2002 guidelines were permitted to migrate to the new policy regime without any financial implications.