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News is a very tricky business, says Indian Minister

11 February 2013

Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia

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Community radio has the power to influence the mainstream discourse on various issues, even at the national level, said Manish Tewari, India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister.

The government will support setting up of more than 500 community radio stations across India during the 12th Five Year Plan. This was announced by India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister, Manish Tewari. “Rs 100 crore have been provided for the development of community radio in the country,” the minister said.

Speaking at the 3rd National Community Radio Sammelan, in New Delhi, Tiwari said that the government was mulling complete waiver of annual spectrum fee of community radio operators.

Talking about the role that could be played by community radio in future, the minister said that the ability of people to put up their lives in public has gone up exponentially in the present times. “While we have empowered people, technology has given us an opportunity to become public with our private views.”

Distributing community radio awards in various categories, the minister said that the community radio stations have a vital role in addressing the local issues related to various communities at the grassroots level.

Talking on the issue of allowing news on community radio, the minister said that the line between news and views is getting blurred with each passing day. Many questions and issues need to be factored in, before allowing the community radio stations to broadcast news content.

Complementing community radio movement for completing ten years in the country, he said that this medium is very critical for giving platform to issues raised by the people at the grassroots level and to those who don’t find their voice being heard at the higher levels. “Community radio has the power to influence the mainstream discourse on various issues both at the local and the national level,” Tiwari said.

The minister also distributed National Community Awards- 2013 to various community radio stations for their outstanding achievements in five categories including categories looking for exceptional work in the promotion of local culture and adoption of sustainable models.

Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said that sustainability is still a major challenge for the community radio in India.

Community Radio has showed, how science can be simplified and taken to the communities. “The myth that communities cannot handle technical things has been belied by the successful movement of community radio in the country,” she said.

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