Thursday, March 31, 2005


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.

1 comment:

Shobha said...

I, Me and Media!

BlogBack Closing 13th October 2005.

Woo Hoo.
I am first.

FM stations have taken off in a great way, simply because, they provide some daytime talkshow programmes, or atleast thats what the mostly broadcast
Though I felt quite irritated by the monotonicity of the talk, I still liked them.
The true power of these stations, as you said, is because, it can go on in the background while you are doing some other job (Read household activities!!!). Thats why it has become a part and parcel of everyday life. (Dont forget the morning suprabatham!)

Nowadays, does anybody even listen to AIR? Sure not. I never knew in what frequencies what would come even. Not even a vague idea. The FM's are more popular than the AIR. Thats probably in the cities; but in villages where there is no FM and no TV either, this is probably the only source of knowledge.
Here, even though I end up mostly listening to FM, I have not yet come across anything even close to the FM's in India "as a time pass". Granted, they play some really good music, but nothing else. There is news now and then, but this standard issue.

Community radio: I knew that Archana and Harini were doing work in it, I never got to listen to it (even in the IIT campus, just next door to Anna!!!), this being one of the few reasons I dont know what purpose it has served.

Final verdict: Radio is there. Will be there. Atleast an FM.

(PS: Is this a paper that you wrote?

2005-03-31 10:14

Sat: hey! Yea I think archie, lakku and harini would be in a better position to talk about their chennai experiences since they are so closely connected to the whole thing. I may ask them to guest blog ;)Hehe! Anyways….this isn't any paper I wrote. Its just an impulsive piece of writing :)

2005-03-31 16:33

True…Quite amazzzzing reach for the Radio…and definitely should be exploited to good effect by the Info and Broadcasting Ministry…by relaxing license rates….and opening up avenues for new stations to come up with more variety in programming….

But one thing left me baffled….The concept of Community Radio is definitely great…But if its being 'controlled' by the people themselves…I mean the programming content etc…..It can be misused to a great extent, I feel….And can very easily lead to communal troubles…Spreading of Mis-info….and some mischief mongers might exploit this loophole to their advantage….especially in a Country like ours….where people are looking for a chance to screw up things….(innumerable instances…need not remind you on that for sure..)…True….In the beginning when they get the license….they may not come up with such content….But at a later stage….(when things r running smoothly)…they might just misuse their 'powers' on the Community Radio……And Yes,The authorities (Govt or watever)….may ban/suspend/cancel the license to the station……but by then……the damage is already done……There4…its too difficult to monitor such odds…..Can't blame the concept, or the Govt…..or the Radio…Or the ppl behind it….Just a Loophole in the concept thats all…….

2005-03-31 17:53

Following the foot steps of Anna University, MOP Vaishnav College in Chennai has started a community radio.

It makes lot of sense to permit private FM players to air current affairs programs. It could be done in two ways -
1) separate channels for current affairs programs (may not be lucrative to FM channels)
2) Allow existing private FM players to air current affairs / news programs.

in situation like the Tsunami warning issued in chennai few days ago, it would be have been good if the private FM players were allowed to broadcast this news as this would reach people faster.

The bottomline is -
if there is money to be made in current affairs based FM channels, people like SUN Network (which have strong connections with the Central govt.) will definitely lobby to get the necessary approvals. International players like BBC and Mediacorp might also be interested.

2005-04-01 18:09

I could have made this post in two words…"Radio Rocks!":D

2005-04-01 18:38
Partha krish:

dear Shobamma:Beginning with a tirade onA.I.R U ended up with a wimper!Sat's last words" radio is there and will be there" is prophetic.I know the working of A.I.R for atleast nearly 6 decades.Your points on the reachability,affordability and above all the personal and emotional bondages with radio are true.
Kay's suggestions are really good.My wife served in A.I.R for 25 years and I know for certain what hell of a job theu are doibg there
especially during national calamities,losses,events,death and so on and so forth.Their work during I.P.K.F work at ceylon was very much appreciated by our soldiers,print media and the public for creating a NATIONAL,PATRIOTIC,PUBLIC opinion in favour of our army

2005-04-02 01:07

An impulsive piece of writing that runs three pages!!!
They sometimes say that an idle mind is a devil's workshop.

2005-04-02 02:16

hey amma , Waaaasssssuuuuuuuuppppppp, …finally managed to come to your blog, your post is out of my understading…so not even tryin to read it! time write something for people like me (n andy, n wussy, n dhinchak, n vighy, they kinda preted 'i-know-everything' but they don't, this is OUR little secret so SSSSSSHHHHHHHH)……but hey 'good job wid the post'………..n u also need to keep up with replying peoples comment.

2005-04-02 06:06

hmm.. :) your right u known.. the good ol'days of radio are being threatened bigtime. and its been overrun by ..WHAT! crappy television soaps and news channels which thrive on controversy!! a very enlightening post shobha.. i you should send this around to a lot more people than the ones who read this blog!
radio needs all the help it can get. and who else to voice that opinion than us! .. its a democracy after all! :)

2005-04-02 09:19

Even though I am not very much of a radio freak (sadly we dont get any FM in Kgp, which is a good 110 km from Cal), I do believe it has its own utilitues, including local news and interesting media. I usually get bored of talk shows and like it when the radio plays music non-stop. The RJ at times is a unnecessary irritating intrusion.

I never knew that the radio companies are prohibited by law to provide news and other current affairs content! I usually found it quite an intriguing anomaly…

I would love to have much more news of use. And I sure hope given a chance, radio companies will make use of the opportunity and not have news read out by dumb RJs who even make the traffic updates seem like a celeb talk show. Some truly amazing content can be generated for radio, and very entertaining too. Even today radio can live up to its sobriquet of a "Poor man's TV" provided we are willing to give it a chance. First steps, the government should reduce the licence fee.

I think initially having a high licence fee makes sense otherwise it will become very difficult to manage the fledgling industry with the multitude of players. It acts as an effective barrier to entry so that not every tom,dick and harry doesn't set up its own roadside radio and completely jam the airwaves. However, now the time is ripe and the government should reduce the licence fee and make sure there is a greater and more vibrant participation of the community in the radio itself. Mind you, an element of control is still required. Airwaves are not free. If you could just set shop in a shack and start running a radio, not only the quality of service be degraded due to too many airwaves without any buffers to separate them, but you might just have airwaves intruding the territory of military, remote sensing and other important domains. The allotment of frequency rances still needs a tight government control. What the government can do is allow a single window clearance, and make it easier for new stations to come up.

Well, we do have campus radios in Kgp. The difference being that the signals dont travel through the air but through our network. We usually use a shoutcast radio on winamp, and its pretty useful. Would like a good airwave radio station which plays good Hindi and English music.

Community radio seems an intersting concept !

2005-04-02 12:49

Krantikari ^:)^, i havent heard radio in ages :((

2005-04-02 16:46

men, i think even i shud read this post…since people are really like going nuts here….ok i m gonna go read now. alrity, adios

2005-04-02 17:24

video killed the radio star :(. i looooove radio:D. go 92.5!!!!! glenn!!!!! jaggu and tarana:D! radio sure has a loyal listener in me:).

2005-04-02 17:37

I wonder how a Sting operation would sound like on Radio!!Ahem…Any guesses?:D

2005-04-04 08:17

Howaazat: Yea, I know the security problems doe xist. But then the government isn't distributing licenses like its distributing free ration na….hehe! But yea, a regulatory body needs to be set up.

Kaps: It's good to see more and mroe colleges opting for the radio services :) The thing is, people surprisingly haven't really thought about what potential radio actually has. I think there would be a huge public furore if the current FM stations were to shut shop. I think they would in all probabability considering the huge license fees. Anyways, after the recent news, the future seems good :)

dhinchak: Brevity and me don't go together…hehe! But you were bang on!

2005-04-12 09:44


Powered by BlogBack
© 2001 - 2005