Shri Anurag Thakur confers 8th and 9th Community Radio Awards; inaugurates Regional Community Radio Sammelan

New Delhi, July 24, 2023.

The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Anurag Thakur today conferred the 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards.The awards were conferred during the Inaugural Session of thetwo-day Regional Community Radio Sammelan (North) which was inaugurated by the Union Minister at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion the Minister said that Community Radio Stations play a key role in realizing the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi of Jan Bhagidari se Jan Andolan. These stations compliment the efforts of Akashvani and have played a key role in keeping their listeners informed during calamities.

Shri Anurag Thakur said the Community Radio stations provide their service despite several challenges including Human Resource shortage, financial strains and lack of external support and for this spirit of nation service they ought to be commended. While the awards encourage the stations, the Minister said, they also recognise the importance of Community Radio in education, awareness generation and problem solving in the remotest corners of India. He expressed hope that the awards will encourage others to foray into this field.

The Minister delved into the efforts of the Government towards Ease of Doing Business in this field and said that the Government has made earnest efforts to reduce the time taken to establish such community radio stations. Where earlier acquiring a license was a time consuming and tedious process taking around four years and involving thirteen processes, today this has been reduced to eight processes and a license can be acquired within six months. He added that the Ministry is making all efforts to reduce this time further. The application process is now online on Broadcast Seva Portal and is connected to Saral Sanchar Portal.

Commenting on the expansion of reach of Radio in India, the Minister said that while today 80% of geographical area of the country and over 90% percent of population is covered by Radio, Government is working to expand this reach further and auction of 808 channels in 284 cities under the 3rd batch of e-auction is a big step in that direction.

Shri Thakur said that the increasing number of Community Radio Stations is a display of their Increasing popularity. Government of India is working to realise the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi that there should be a Community Radio station in each district and this should further percolate to one in every Block.

Speaking on the need for a platform to bring together the experiences of these Community Radio Stations, Shri Thakur said that various experiments and innovations in the field of community services are being performed in isolation by these radio stations across India. He expressed hope that a network could be created where these stations could share their ideas and experiences so that the best of these could be replicated across the country. He envisioned a community that will create a powerhouse out of the ideas of these stations.

The Minister thanked the Jury of the awards for their contributions and congratulated the winners making a special mention of the station that have been conferred an award both for the 8th and 9th edition stating that this recognises their continuing excellence in the field.

Secretary Shri Apurva Chandra, speaking earlier, said that the communication space has witnessed many advancements in the form of Television and then Internet and now OTT, but that has not dented the popularity and reach of Radio. Community Radio exists in a space not touched by other platforms and serves a need for connectivity not served by more modern media. He further stated that COVID19 pandemic had prevented organization of these Awards and thus this year the Ministry is giving away both the 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards.

He further informed the audience that the last 2 years have seen an addition of over 120 community radio stations taking the total to over 450 with an additional over 100 Letters of Intent with the Ministry.

The winners of 8th and 9th National Community Radio Awards is a recognition of Community Radio Stations who have done commendable work in their field, in public interest. These awards are being conferred during Community Radio Regional Sammelan being held on the occasion of National Broadcasting Day on 23rd July 2023.

For the 9th National Community Radio Awards a total of 12 Awards in 4 Categories are being given. The award winning Community Radio Stations are situated in the States of Haryana, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Tripura.

The Government of India instituted the National Community Radio Awards to promote better programming in Community Radio and encourage Community Radio Stations to generate programmes in the interest of local community. The National Community Radio Awards are given to those Community Radio Stations who have done exemplary work in the field of Community Radio Broadcasting through Community Centric Programmes. The various categories of awards have worked as a nudge for the Community Radios to develop programmes on various themes. The awards have promoted a culture of sustainability, innovation and citizen-participation.

Community Radio is an important third tier in Radio Broadcasting, distinct from Public Service Radio broadcasting and Commercial Radio. Community Radio Stations (CRSs) are low power Radio Stations, which are meant to be set-up and operated by community based organisations.

The Community Radio provides a platform to communities to air local voices on issues concerning Health, Nutrition, Education, Agriculture etc. Community Radio also has the potential to strengthen people’s participation in development programmes through its holistic approach. In a country like India, where every state has its own language and distinctive cultural identity, CRSs are also a repository of local folk music and cultural heritage. Many CRSs record and preserve local songs for posterity and give local artists a platform to showcase their talent to the community. The unique position of CRS is an instrument of positive social change, which makes it an ideal tool for community empowerment. Since the Community Radio broadcast is in local languages and dialects, people are able to relate to it instantly.

The Government is supporting the Community Radio Movement in India, in a big way so that this form of mass-media reaches to the last mile where mainstream media presence is low. There has been exponential growth of Community Radio Stations in the past few years. As on date, there are a total of 449 Community Radio Stations in the country, out of which 70 % are in the rural areas. Around 100 odd organizations have been permitted for establishment of Community Radio Stations. This shows the commitment of the government for community empowerment and transformation to bring them into the mainstream development process.