The idea of Social and technology are entwined and have the capacity to influence each other. Technology emerged from social, economic and cultural practices. It is imperative to study the current level of technological access within the sector as CR prescribes diversity and participation. The 2017 National Consultation’s session dated April 12 on ‘Strengthening Community Radio in India’ witnessed the paper presentation by Mr. Hemant Babu, Managing Director of Nomad Communication who explored the issues impacting technology and community broadcasting. Mr. Ram Bhat, Mr Vasuki Belavadi, and Mr. N. Ramakrishnan also contributed to the working paper.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) presently regards Frequency Modulation (FM) technology for community broadcasting due to its better sound quality despite having lower geographic outreach. However, some linguistic communities are spread over different regions. The paper proposes to bring in the MW (Medium Wave) technology which has the capacity of over 100watts to overcome geographical separation of communities. The shortage of frequency in urban areas has kept the poor urban masses away from CR. The rural sector has uneven spread of CR in different states due to low level indicators of education, development and some villages having an atmosphere of conflict. Thus the principles of equity and social justice should be followed when allocating spectrum to CRS in rural and urban areas along with systematic and dynamic mapping of spectrum. Awareness workshops and publicity for Community Radio Support Scheme can help in strengthening the under-served communities by putting out information necessary for accessing CR.
The MIB technology committee needs to invest in producing blueprint of such CRS which are locally built with available local resources. These blueprints can encourage community members to make use of the available resources within their community to build a CRS rather than depending on external resources. Additionally, the import duties on CR equipments need to be eliminated which will facilitate in easy setting up of CRS. A list on the same has been put together by technology committee of MIB. The paper presented at the National Consultation recommends MIB and MoCIT (Ministry of Communication and Information Technology) to work with relevant ministries, so that costs of transmitters and imported CR components can be made affordable to communities intending to set up CRS.
The working paper also recommended on extending subsidies to CRS willing to embrace convergence of internet and telephony. Since telephony incurs calling cost, CRS should broker an arrangement with telecoms and or Internet Service providers for toll free calls and reduced call rates. Combining CR with telephony will increase listener’s participation but CRSs should strike a balance between community member’s participation and commodification of their participation. The digitisation of CRS is said to be imminent. 200 CRS will be affected if the impending digitalisation is implemented haphazardly and without involving CR members through consultation process. The paper recommends on subsidizing the digital equipments through Community Radio Support Scheme, unless the price is at par with analogue FM transmitters.
Read the entire working paper on Technology and Community Radio.
Highlights of panel discussion on ‘Technologies for CR: Challenges and Possibilities’:
Discussions on ‘Technologies for CR: Challenges and Possibilities’ was facilitated by Dr. Ankuran Dutta (Gauhati University) on the chair and panelists Hemant Babu (Nomad India), Prof. Vasuki Belavadi (University of Hyderabad), Khuswinder Singh Bhatia (BECIL) and Dr. Jayanth Narayan Petkar (Radio Jyotirgamaya). The panel urged the ministry to codify conditions in which 250W ERP can be granted and deliberated on ways to make more efficient frequency allocations.
For quotes from this panel discussion click on the Facebook icon in the post below: