‘Radio’s Role in Communicating on Social Issues’ came under the scanner at the conference jointly organised by United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and Association of Radio Operators of India (AROI) in the Capital on August 9, 2010. Eminent panelists included Shyam Benegal, film maker and Rajya Sabha MP; Zohra Chatterjee, Member Secretary, National Commission for Women; Lov Verma, Member Secretary, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights; and Tapas Sen, CPO, Radio Mirchi.
Speaking on the role of the radio in communicating social messages, Shyam Benegal said that in most cases, people lacked the knowledge of Government schemes and many were ignorant about their rights. “In all radio communications, this should be the primary concern. The main aim should be to educate listeners about their fundamental rights. If that is not happening, then it means that our communication system is not successful,” he added.
Benegal further said that despite the amount of money that the Government had sanctioned for these awareness programmes, the results had not been encouraging. He added, “Our delivery system is quite complicated. Radio is a medium that can make the two-way communication system possible. Radio has got a wide reach and it can serve the purpose.”
Putting forward the Government’s point of view, Zohra Chatterjee noted, “Right now, India has got 243 radio stations in 87 cities, and soon with the Phase III of radio expansion, this medium will have 806 stations, which will be operating in 283 cities.”
Speaking on the various social programmes on radio channels, she pointed out that it was a license condition for every radio station to air at least one hour of social messaging programs every day. “It will be good if every player donates some amount of time towards it. I hope radio does not get polluted by the numbers in RAM and this medium will come forward and work as a watchdog of the society,” she affirmed.
Speaking about child rights and social programmes, Lov Verma commented that radio could play a decisive role in the propagation of child rights. He maintained, “Advocacy through radio has an important role to play. Advocacy about right to education through radio will definitely help the people to understand the scheme better. This medium has to go out to the maximum number of the people.”
Putting forward the radio industry’s point of view, Tapas Sen said that UNICEF had to not only fight for radio space, but for mind space too. According to him, “The term ‘social message’ is misunderstood by all radio players in India. If you don’t tell the listeners that you care for them, they will soon say that they don’t care.”
Sen concluded, “Social message through radio can not only be viewed as a statuary mandatory condition. It has a wider platform of function and it must be addressed accordingly by the radio players and the listeners.