Batting for expansion of the community radio network, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley today said radio is an instrument of the future and there cannot be a better idea to provide listeners the right to information and knowledge than this medium.
He also observed that the “myth” that airways was the monopoly of the state has been broken now.
Addressing the ‘5th National Community Radio Sammelan’ Jaitley said, “Over two decades ago, the state had the misconceived notion that airways is the monopoly of the state. That myth itself was broken. I have nostalgic memory of how this was broken having been twice in the ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
“Before that I was privy in my position as a lawyer to shake that view that the state had a monopoly. The right belongs to people. That law came later and today it belongs to people. All of you are expressing that idea and I am glad that the expansion of that idea is taking place fast,” he said.
Congratulating winners of the award for innovative contribution in the field of community radio, the Union Minister said the idea of community radio in most parts of the country had been a “wonderful idea”.
“And it’s an idea that should expand. The reasons are very clear,” Jaitley said delving on the issue as to whom does the right of free speech expressed from radio really belong.
“Part truth is that it belongs to the broadcaster, it belongs to the person who expresses himself. The full truth is that it belongs also to the listener because he has a right to information, right to knowledge, he has a right to receive the dissemination of facts.
“And there can’t be a better idea than community radio for the full and effective implementation of that,” the Union Minister said batting strongly for the medium.
Sharing recommendations made by TRAI in this regard, I& B Secretary Vimal Julka said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid lot of emphasis on community radio.
“His ‘Maan Ki Baat’ has reached the remotest corner of the country…Community radio is one of the best tool to empower rural communities that seldom find voice in mainstream media…with the expansion of community radio, I won’t be surprised, the public broadcasting will also have to compete with this sector in times to come,” he said.
The ministry has already issued 400 odd permissions for community radio centres all over the country in 29 states and 7 Union territory out of which 179 community radio stations are operational.
“With regard to simplification of procedure which we are undertaking from time to time….we proposed to go online as far as this medium is concerned,” he said. “The courts have time and again declared that airwaves are public property which are to be used for promoting public good, and ventilating views, opinions and ideas,” Julka said.
On recommendations made by TRAI in the recent past on removal of CRS permission and other issues being deliberated at the conference, he said TRAI has indicated that terms of permission for CRS should continue to be at five years, duration of advertisements on community radio should be five minutes per hour and stipulations that the DAVP approves should be relaxed in the case of community radio.
Hailing the community radio for playing a “phenomenal role” on disaster management in the recent past, he said, “We should try and liase with Department of Telecom and ensure that detailed guidelines are put out for community radios in disaster managements.”
There is also a recommendation of the TRAI that community radio should be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs sourced exclusively from AIR in its original form or translated in the local language, which is a far reaching mandate of community radio along with operating partnership with AIR, the Secretary said.
He said the government is committed to expand the medium to achieve the goal of inclusive growth.
Jaitley expressed confidence that the ideas expressed by community radio operators in the conference will be of immense value to the government in future policy making.
“In the conference, you will have the opportunity to discus the issues at length, issues of culture, issues of language, issues of practices, issues of medical education, propagation of government schemes. All take place through radio. Radio was the instrument of the past. It’s also an instrument of the future,” the minister said.
The Minister also said that the proceedings of the conference will be of immense value and utility as far as the government is concerned.
“Every word of what you say, every bit of suggestion that you make will have a great impact as far our policy making is concerned. Your presence today will be of immense value as far as future policy making is concerned,” he said.
Role of community radio movement in promoting initiatives like ‘Beti Bachao’ and ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ are the main focus of a three-day conference beginning today.