'Community Radios to be Allowed to Retransmit AIR News'
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While airing of own news content by privately run radio stations is restricted due to its sensitive nature, Government will now be allowing Community Radios to retransmit news broadcast by All India Radio.

Speaking at the third Community Radio Sammelan here, I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma also hinted that there could be complete waiver of the spectrum fee for Community Radios.

He said that there was a stream of thought that questioned the government's stand on not allowing local news on community radio.

"That's (news on community radio) an issue, which is quite a sensitive issue. You will realise that in a country like India, where we have no mechanism to know what is going on, if some damage is done, we'll not know for a long time,(sic)" Varma said.

On the other hand, he said, it could also be argued that people who ran Community Radio stations are responsible and could be trusted.

"The fact for the matter is that even for FM which is a far more commercial venture, we have not allowed news which they can create on their own, but we have in the proposed policy that they could perhaps use the AIR news. I am willing to offer that to you," Varma told representatives of Community Radio stations.

Community Radio stations broadcast with the objective of serving the cause of a community in a small geographical area.

Varma said that the hiking of spectrum fee for Community Radio stations from Rs 19,000 to Rs 91,000 was not very advisable and the ministry had taken up the matter very proactively and expected that there will be a waiver of the fee for Community Radio stations.

"Our feedback is that the spectrum fee has been waived but there are certain procedures which are required. Those procedures are underway and soon - I really can't make a commitment because it is not in my hands - but it is expected that the complete waiver of the spectrum fee will become a reality very very shortly," Varma said.

Varma said that there was a need to spread Community Radio stations to areas where the movement had not reached. He said that while there were stations in states like Tamil Nadu, in areas like the North East and Jharkhand, more needed to be done.

The I&B ministry was now trying to create a single window mechanism which will make obtaining of clearances for those who want to set up Community Radio Stations much more convenient, he said.

He said that the issue of sustainability of Community Radio stations is important and the ministry was thinking of ways in which this movement can be supported. He said apart from setting up a fund for Community Radio, other ideas were also being considered.

The I&B secretary also asked Community Radio stations to focus on the needs of their communities in their programming content.

Varma said that presently 40 per cent of the Community Radio stations were being run by Non Governmental Organisations and hoped that in the next ten years there participation would reach 90 per cent.

The ministry will also be conferring national awards on Monday where I&B minister Manish Tewari will honour Community Radio stations in different categories.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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