After a long battle by NGOs and Civil Society bodies, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a new Community Radio policy allowing non-profit organisations to set up community radio stations (CRS) as recommended by the I&B Ministry and subsequently cleared by the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Sharad Pawar.
Apart from educational institutes, civil society and voluntary organisations, State Agriculture Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, registered societies and autonomous bodies and registered public trusts can also apply for community radio station license.
To apply for a CRS license a non-profit organisation should have a proven record of at least three years of service to the local community and the CRS should be designed to serve a well-defined local community.
Individuals, political parties and their affiliate organisations, organisations banned by the Union and State governments as well as organisations operating with a motive to earn profit will not be allowed to own a CRS.
However, a PIB release on the Cabinet decision is silent on whether the Government has approved allowing five-minute commercial time on CRS, though unconfirmed reports suggest that the Cabinet has not made any major changes in the policy as suggested by the GoM.
According to the data provided in I&B Ministry website, at present there are 19 operational CRS. The Ministry has received 100 applications so far and has issued 60 Letters of Intent. Thirty-six interested parties have signed licensing agreement with the Ministry.
Recently speaking at the FICCI Radio Forum seminar, I&B Secretary, S K Arora, had said that after the new policy announcement, the number of community radio stations might run into several hundreds, if not several thousands.
Cabinet to take up community radio issue in two weeks' time: I&B Secy