Community radio gets Rs 50 mn for 2012-13

Community radio gets Rs 50 mn for 2012-13

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NEW DELHI: A Planned Scheme of "Supporting Community Movement in India" has been conceived to provide grants to Community Radio Stations in the range of Rs 100,000 to Rs 1.5 million depending on the purpose for which the grant is sought.

Under this scheme, a provision has been made to award grants for infrastructure/ equipment to scale the growth of new community radio stations especially in remote and rural areas that have little access to media as well as stations managed by disadvantaged and marginalised communities.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee for Information Technology, while welcoming the move, wanted the Information and Broadcasting to take up the matter urgently with the Planning Commission for its early clearance the plan is yet to receive in-principle approval.

The Ministry has requested a grant of Rs 1.5 billion. While the scheme has been sent to Planning Commission for in-principle approval, an amount of Rs 50 million had been allocated in Budget Estimates 2012-13, out of which Rs 30 million has been earmarked for funding and Rs 20 million for IEC (Information, Education and Communication) activities.

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Asked why only Rs 50 million had been sanctioned when the Ministry had sought Rs 1.5 billion, the Ministry told the Committee that more funds will be requested after in principle approval and the Ministry is in touch with the Planning Commission in this connection.

Apart from taking up the issue of adequate funds for the Scheme during the Twelfth plan with Planning Commission, efforts should also be made for full utilisation of Rs 50 million allocated for the year 2012-13.

Under the scheme, provision has been made to award grants for infrastructure/equipment to scale the growth of new CRS especially in remote and rural areas that have little access to media, as well as stations managed by disadvantaged and marginalised communities.

Broadcasting Engineering Consultant India Ltd. (BECIL), a public sector enterprise under the Ministry has designed cost effective transmitters and antenna for CR stations. BECIL also helps CRS in installation and maintenance throughout the country.

The Committee said it was of the "strong view that lack of financial support being a major hurdle in way of CR expansion, the Scheme will definitely bring good relief and encourage those applicants who refrained from applying due to financial considerations".

A Working Group set up by the Ministry to suggest a mechanism to provide state funding to CRS had earlier suggested a corpus fund but this could not materialise due to Ministry of Finance Guidelines not allowing creation of fund either out of revenue or out of Government borrowing.

The Committee observed that the Government had approved the policy in 2002 for grant of licenses for setting up of CRS to well established education, institutions including IITs/IIMs.

While 130 CRS are operational in the country, the Ministry told the Committee that 1026 applications have been received since 2002 when the first policy of CRS was brought out. Out of 363 permissions issued so far, 165 Grant of permission agreement (GOPA) have been signed and 268 applications are under the consideration for grant of permission at various stages.

The Committee noted with concern that out of the 268 applications, as many as 110 applications were pending with various Ministries such as Home, Defence, Human Resource Development; the Wireless Planning Commission wing of Department of Telecommunications; and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

The Committee felt that the I&B Ministry being the sole authority responsible for spread of CR Movement should co-ordinate with the concerned Ministries/agencies for early clearance of pending applications so that community radio services spread fast in the country reaching out to large population.

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