First Community Radio Awareness Webinar organised successfully by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and OneWorld

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting - Community Radio Awareness Webinar

New Delhi: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), Government of India, in partnership with OneWorld Foundation India (OneWorld), has successfully organized a three-day Community Radio Awareness Webinar for Prospective Applicants from 25th to 27th August 2021. This is the first in the series of nine such webinars

Community radio is an important medium for disseminating information to the most vulnerable and indigenous communities. Despite the rise in social media and OTT platforms, community radio is still the only powerful medium to reach remote rural areas. This medium has also proved to be the most accessible and reliable information medium in disaster-affected areas of the world. Even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, community radio continues to play a vital role in spreading scientific information and awareness.

MIB has been conducting community radio awareness workshops since 2007 to popularize Community Radio among the general public and motivate social organizations, Kisan Vigyan Kendras and educational institutions to apply for licenses. So far 91 awareness and capacity building workshops have been organized across various geographical locations in the country. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, there was the incorporation of a video conferencing tool for organizing these awareness webinars.

Mr. Sanjiv Shankar, IRS, Joint Secretary (Broadcasting), inaugurated the webinar and said, “MIB would be setting up helpdesk to support Community Radio applicants.” He added that Community Radio is an integral and critical focus area for the government and the ministry has allocated ample resources to promote the sector. I am confident this series of webinars will provide an exciting opportunity to learn from the experts and peers alike that in turn will empower and give voice to grassroots communities and accelerate development.

Over the three days, over 30 participants from NGOs, Educational Institutions and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) were sensitised through interactive sessions about community radio operational policy, licensing process, technological requirements and understanding the concept for community radio by engaging the communities with this economical medium of awareness building. The Community Radio domain experts and senior officials of MIB also focused on demystification of the application process, community engagement, content creation and financial sustainability.

While taking the important session on Community Radio: Why and for whom, Mr Gauri Shankar Kesarwani, Additional Director, CRS Cell, MIB, said: “Community radio is managed, run, controlled and owned by a community for the benefit of the community and serves the needs, interests and aspirations of a community. Community Radio gives marginalised communities a voice and an opportunity to express their views.”

In the session of Impact of Community Radio, representatives of operational Community Radio briefed all the participants about the day-to-day operational aspects, challenges and functions of acting as a bridge between the administration and the community by disseminating local relevant information.

Ms Abha Negi, Managing Director, OneWorld Foundation India, in the valedictory session of the webinar, said: “We at OneWorld are committed to promote Community Radio sector in the country and create awareness among interested and eligible NGOs, educational institutions and Krishi Vigyan Kendras on how to go about setting up Community Radio Stations. This webinar is an endeavour in that direction.

The major attraction for this webinar was when all participants were taken on a live virtual tour of Radio Mayur – a community radio station based in Chhapra, Bihar. The participants were highly excited with this live demonstration and asked many questions and clarified doubts which were also covered during sessions.

The workshop culminated with the highly motivated participants where they got the requisite knowledge about all the logical and technical aspects of Community Radio and they immediately submitted their Expression of Interest to MIB for setting up Community Radio Stations.