The community radio experts and participating stations as well as organizations present at the two-day National Consultation on Strengthening Community Radio in India organized by the UNESCO Chair on Community Media and UNESCO on April 11 and 12, 2017 signed a resolution to move towards formation of a Consortium among CR stations and other stakeholders as well as agencies for the benefit of the CR sector.

This Consulation was organized with the objective of revisiting the recommendations made at the National Consultation in 2010 and reviewing the status of the community radio sector in India since the policy guidelines issued in 2006, that opened the airwaves for community broadcasting. After detailed deliberations, the participants endorsed a list of recommendations that was complied by the UNESCO Chair on Community Media. Various community radio organizations also helped translate the recommendations into Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Tamil for wider circulation and feedback. The final recommendations of the National Consultation compiled after feedback from all stakeholders, are arranged thematically, with the recommendations to the government and the CR stations presented separately.

Among the main recommendations to the government, was the need to take a pro-active approach to licensing in conflict prone areas and regions under-served by media. The government was also urged to provide support for organizing capacity building workshops. It was recommended that the Ministry of Information and Broadcast (MIB) collaborate with an umbrella body such as the CR Consortium of agencies and organizations to better coordinate different capacity building activities for the sector. In order to introduce creative and lateral thinking for innovative programming, promoting multi-sectoral approach to training by engaging with experts in theatre, folk arts and other media was recommended. For the sustainability of the sector, it was recommended that regulatory frameworks be revised to allow identification of CRs as an independent institution, relax content restrictions, establish processes to mandate community ownership of decision making and redesign and re-establish CR support fund as an autonomous sectoral fund with government and stakeholder participation. It was also recommended that the government may consider allocating a separate nation-wide frequency for emergency and disaster situations. The recommendations also sought that as part of Digital India that high-speed broadband be provided by Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) to every CR station.

The recommendations noted that CR stations must include AMARC gender guidelines and other documents related to gender-sensitive programming in all capacity sharing efforts to sensitize the radio station staff, volunteers as well as management about the need for democratic communication and diversity. The recommendations further noted that in order to amplify diverse issues and perspectives, CR must build associations with social movements like Right to Information, Food Security and Sovereignty, Education, and Disability Rights, etc. Operating CRs were counseled to imbibe a training culture and conduct periodic trainings locally and regionally without solely depending on the MIB to organize the same. CRs were recommended to facilitate online and physical information and best practices exchanges through peer visits for learning with specified deliverables and outputs. It was recommended that CR stations should encourage research, assessment and evaluation methodologies that are distinct and different from those adopted by mainstream media.

For more details read the NATCON 2017 recommendations.

HINDI VERSION (Credits: Shri Pankaj Chaturvedi, Ideosync Media Combine)

MALAYALAM VERSION (Credits: Fr. Sebastian PV, Radio Mattoli)

MARATHI VERSION (Credits: Nilay Wankhade (IUIF), Manndeshi Tarang Vahini, Mhaswad)

TAMIL VERSION (Credits: Centre for Development Communication, DHAN Foundation)