After getting the nod from the Group of Ministers, the fate of community radio is now in the hands of the Union Cabinet, which is going to take up the issue within two weeks. “The GoM has cleared the proposal and the Cabinet will take up the matter in two weeks time,” I&B Secretary S. K. Arora told exchange4media on the sidelines of the Indian Magazine Congress in Delhi on Tuesday.
The ministry, in its proposal to liberalise the policy to expand the scope of community radio, had recommended allowing commercials up to five minutes in one hour of programming. It had also proposed allowing non-profit organisations and privately held educational institutes to have their own community radio stations. Among other changes recommended are an increase in the licence period from three years to five years and reducing the license fee by half to Rs 25,000.
However, when put before the Cabinet, there were differences in opinion on allowing commercials on community radio. Hence the government had set up a GoM in October 2005 headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
The ministry has received 95 applications of which 51 Letters of Intent have been issued, 29 institutions have signed the agreement and 17 community radio stations are operational.