Update: Yeahieeeeeee! Days after I post this, I read this report in Indian Express and this (this one's recent). Whoa! Got this link via CSF. This is just so coooooool! The coincidence is cool or what! (Just hope that the Govt. lives up to its word, damn, the cynic in me will never die!)
Read on ...
I was just reading about Radio in India. I think the government monopoly on the airwaves is so unjust and is a criminal waste of talent, opportunity which a radio boom can bring upon. Radio in India is monopolised with the sole presence of the state broadcaster, All India Radio. Of course we have the emergence of FM radio stations, but I am talking about the total absense of radio channels in the current affairs genre. The boom of FM radio stations is a sign enough that the time to write the obituary of radio as a medium is not come as yet. I foresee a sad possibility not because the medium will become redundant but because of our government attitude towards Radio which will only result into its imminent death.
I don't know how long these stations will survive given the exhorbitant license fees that the broadcasters have to pay every year. C'mon a license fees of 11-13 crores per year is ridiculously expensive for a fledgeling business enterprise in India. Most of the radio stations are still functioning because of the backing of their successful parent media organisations. However many like Mid-day's GO-92.5 (which caters to a niche audience in Mumbai) are thinking about a closure in case of a status quo.
There is something about Radio which makes it so personal, homely in a very cocoonish kind of a way. I feel Radio and local go hand in hand. Again I repeat the example of FM stations. Logistically, FM stations are bound to be local. Their success just goes on to show that how successful Radio as a medium can be in the local sphere of things. As of now we have only FM stations which are prohibited from mentioning the word "News" as well.
The success of radio lies in the fact that it is one of the cheapest medium of communication. It's reach is massive, radio reaches at places where none of the other mediums of communication even manage a peekaboo. The beauty of Radio is that it complements all other mediums. One can listen to radio while doing their household chores, driving, gardening, etc. The impact that radio has considering the fact that it is purely an audio medium doesn't make it any less potent than other mediums. The fact that it is purely an audio medium is its biggest strength I believe because Radio as a medium works at a subconcious level. Radio sets are cheap. Since it is local, it can easily cross the barriers of language and communicate with the people in their lingo. Radio is also perhaps the only medium which can easily overcomes the literacy barrier.
Just imagine what kind of ripples radio will create if the government were to open the reportage of Current Affairs Radio sector to private players. I am just wondering what amazing variety of content generation that can come up if Government opens up the Radio sector in a justified way reducing the exhorbitant license fees. I fail to understant the Government's insecure behaviour towards Radio as such. I am plain puzzled. The massive reach of the Radio and the inability on the part of the government to regulate it is one of the prime reasons for the non show out here. I fail to understand such a myopic attitude of the Government.
Endless possibilites beckon us in the communciation arena if the government attitude towards radio changed. If the current affairs genre is given the freedom it so deserves, Radio journalism will develop in this country like no tomorrow. There would be tons of jobs which can be created. I just imagine a time wherein I would be able to tune into Radio and listen to innumerable radio programmes (which are not always entertainment based)
Currently there is a stagnation in the current affairs genre given the monopoly of All India Radio. I mean everybody is aware that of thedull and drab their news programmes, their endless discussion sessions and total lack of new programming content. One can bring about so much variety in programming content pertaining to performing arts, current affairs etc. The scope is immense and I can go on and on. We are in dire need of novelty, spunk in Radio programming which is so sadly missing. I for one love Radio and I feel this is so unfair. I wonder why none of our ministers in parliament take up this issue. When we can tons of newspapers, TV Channels, why can't we have tons of Radio channels and original programming content in India?
Community Radio is a very revolutionary concept.
Community Radio serves a local community or a community of interest. The emphasis is on the democratisation of media, that it should be accessible to the community, both in terms of ownership, decision making and programme output.
Programming is produced by the community, with an emphasis on local concerns and issues, the difference being that rather than merely talking about the community, the people themselves make the programmes. This strengthens local culture with the recognition that this is their station, it becomes a forum for a wide diversity of local opinions and views and rather that trying to continue this into a homogenous station ‘image’ usually adopted by mainstream stations, this diversity can be respected and encouraged.
The station as a whole can still have an ‘identity’, but this can be only acceptance, diversity and in short pluralism.
[Definition of community Radio is courtesy this site]
Community Radio has an social impact which the mainstream media are unable to bring about considering their lack of reach. Community Radio is thriving in other parts of the world. Considering the fact that 70% of our population lives in Rural Areas, Community Radio can do wonders.
The presence of Community radio could have easily reduced the number of deaths caused mainly due to the lack of information about the deadly Tsunami. So many people could have been evacuated and in rpocess we could have saved so many lives.
Community Radio is a great agent for social change but unfortunately there aren't many community radios in the country. The government has started giving licenses to reputed educational institutions to start their own campus radio and community radio initiatives.It's a welcome move. However many applications are still lying in pipeline with just one educational institution i.e. Anna University of Chennai which has become the first educational institution in the country to have started a community radio.
I am glad that in a small way government attitude is changing but I fail to realise the logic behind granting licenses to educational instituions in urban areas with limited reach. I mean community radio is more effective and is more needed in rural areas wherein the communities are more close knit and are in dire need of developmental initiatives. Community radio has enormous potential to bring about loads of changes for the better. Someone should just exploit the potential or rather the government should allow someone to exploit the potential.