Archive for December, 2009

Scenes from the Workshop

Chhavi explaining pod-casts

Chandita Mukherjee, Nandini Sahai, Rajeshwar Dayal & Shoba Ghosh (From L to R)

Narasamma & Nagesh Babu speaking at the CR workshop

Vasuki speaking at the CR workshop

Sajan Veniyoor speaking at the CR workshop

Audience at the workshop

Volunteers & organisers

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December 26, 2009 at 11:19 am Leave a comment

A media coverage of the workshop

Published on Radioandmusic.com// (http://www.radioandmusic.com)
by: // Anita Iyer On // 30 Nov 09 17:29 IST

// Sustainability haunts Community radio
//

// MUMBAI: Community radio is a radio station for, by and of the community. This adage was cemented at the community radio workshop in Mumbai last week.

Held at Juhu in suburban Mumbai, the two day workshop- ‘Community Radio: tuning into diversity’ offered guidelines on setting up, managing and sustaining a community radio station.

Operational community run stations in India like DDS Sangham, Mangalore based Radio Sarang, MVSS from Satara, Radio Bundelkhand, Radio Ujjas of Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghatan, related their success stories which emphasized on community involvement.

The focus on day one was on operational stations who completed one year and sustainability was the key concern for these stations at the forum. Walking the audiences through their stations, they related experiences of trails and triumphs of setting up a station.

DDS Sangham presented a successful model of subscription, where the community of 5000 people contributes Rs. 50 annually for recovering the operational cost of the station.

Apart from the success stories, the workshop touched upon points of procedure of setting up a station, funding, technicalities, advertising avenues, content production, archiving of content etc. CR applicant Naveen Chandra from Bandra based Union park residents association explained the process of applying for license.

Hemant Babu of Nomad transmitters simplified the technicalities in setting up community radio and proclaimed that funding should not be a hurdle for communication. Elaborating on low cost equipment for setting up community radio, he said that a station can be initiated in Rs. 1 lakh as well.

On the technical side, the event also saw presentation by Gram Vaani who exhibited their GRINS technology.

On the second day, Brian Tellis from Radio Active spoke about integration of community radio with mobile technology . He advised Radio Bundelkhand which received 60 calls every week to encourage the concept of mobile technology in the interiors to increase interactivity.

Chhavi Sachdev of audio content and production house Sonologue introduced the audience to concept of carving listeners through social networking site and increasing visibility. Content production being one of the key issues for community radio, Sachdev has flagged off an upcoming online portal – sharewave.in, a platform for stations to share relevant content with attribution.

Online integration was followed by Friji Karhikeyan, developer of an online radio channel- Radio Schizoid. She explained the need for hosting a music enabled website for spreading local music and creating a buzz about community radio.

Attendees from different walks were present at the workshop including radio operators, technical professionals, community radio applicants, license seekers and radio enthusiasts.

Although the workshop touched upon many aspects of community radio, the question of raising finance and sustainability was still left unanswered.


// http://www.radioandmusic.com/content/editorial/community-radio/sustainability-haunts-community-radio
Source URL (retrieved on // 26 Dec 09 11:39 IST )

December 26, 2009 at 6:11 am Leave a comment

Workshop Report: Thinking ahead

A Brief Report of the Community Radio Workshop conducted on the 27th and 28th of November 2008.

The Comet Media Foundation in partnership with Media Information and Communication Centre of India with the support of Frederich Ebert Foundation, Delhi and Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy, Mumbai, organised a Community Radio Workshop, tuning in to diversity, at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies, Juhu, Mumbai,on the 27th and 28th of November 2008. Following is a brief report of the event.

Day 1 27/11/08

The programme began at around 11:00 am with a welcome note by Ms.Chandita Mukherjee of Comet Media Foundation, Mumbai.

The first panel was on The basics of Community Radio: Principles and Practices”. The panel consisted of Shoba Ghosh, Professor Dept of English, Mumbai University, Rajeshwar Dayal, Frederich Ebert Institute, New Delhi, Nandini Sahai, Information and Communication Centre of India (MICCI), Delhi

Discussant: Rajeshwar Dayal, Frederich Ebert Institute, New Delhi

Why do we need Community Radio? Community Radio concepts and prospects.

Rajeshwar Dayal started by concentrating on the Kheda, Gujarat community radio project and how it was a true community effort leading to protests from the community when Doordarshan wanted to take over the project. He said that community media, due to its independence from market interests had more credibility. In India, the Supreme Court ruling maintains that the airwaves are not the monopoly of the government but that the government is a mere custodian. Just as market forces enabled the entry of satellite television into Indian homes, private radio stations have also flourished in India but on the condition of not being able to telecast news or discuss political issues. He mentioned the CR policies in other South Asian and the relative freedom that they enjoy. He stressed that the most important task that lies ahead is to fight for preserving our freedom of expression and the freedom to decide radio programming content.

Discussant: Sobha Ghosh, Professor, Dept. Of English, Mumbai University

Concluding Remarks: The history of radio in India goes back more than half a century ago. Today, the issue of community radio needs to be framed in the context of globalisation. In the west, for example in England, community radio would mean a radio station that plays only alternative rock music and therefore serves a community of people. However, in India, it is not so. Moreover, it is very difficult to define a “community” in India.

Community radio by its very nature is expected to not be profit oriented, not be paternalistic and not treat the listener as an object but as a participant. When the community is the protagonist, it leads to the duality of access and participation. In India, she says, the people share a specialised relationship with the state. The state becomes the final granter of rights, at the same time being the repressor. In Nepal however, there is no separate policy for commercial radio and community radio. In India, even though the airwaves are available to the people there have been only 297 applications for 4000 available slots. She went on to talk about the repression of the freedom of expression by the people. She said that although article 19 guarantees the citizens of India the right to freedom of expression, the right is not articulated when radio stations are not allowed to broadcast news.

As for the financial aspect, even commercial radio can’t sustain on ad time itself and requires huge sponsors. Also the run needs to be at least 12 hours per day for a sustainable model. Also the initial costs of setting up a radio station are around 50 lakhs. Community Radio is therefore the victim of its unsustainable nature and the long, complicated and expensive formalities that accompany the application for a licence. She says that while there is a vast difference between campus radio and community radio, it is not there in the eyes of the government. Campus radio stations have institutional framework to sustain them unlike community radio stations.

With these concluding remarks, the first panel came to an end.

The Second Panel was onEmpowering Community Voices and Navigating the Regulatory Landscape”. The panellists were Michelle Chawla, Nomad Radio, Sajan Veniyoor, Community Radio Forum, Navin Chandra of Bharati Kakkad, Jago Mumbai Community Radio Station, Mumbai and Vasuki Belavadi, media researcher and faculty at University of Hyderabad

Michelle Chawla, Nomad Radio

Michelle Chawla began by saying that Community radio has the power to be considered as a tool for electronic civil disobedience and be used to negotiate and navigate the government policies. She also talked about the politics of media control and the 1986 supreme court judgement regarding the ownership of the airwaves.

Sajan Venniyoor, community radio forum

What community radio station operators need to understand about policies and regulations:

Sajan Venniyoor began by a question posed by Tom Haig, broadcaster and trainer that said, “Can you help understand CR restrictions in India? He then went on to talk about the document of policies and rules and its many possible interpretations. He also elucidated the three separate interpretations of the rules regarding regulation of radio waves in India, the views of the judiciary, the legislative and the executive.

The community radio policy (2006) says that to apply for a community radio licence, a group needs to have been an NGO for a minimum of three years and serve a specific well defined community which is defined by the government of India as a group of people who fall under the access area covered by a radio tower. He said that it is very important that the ownership /management structure of the community radio station be reflective of the community. It is very important to keep in mind both the issue of freedom of speech and that of freedom after speech. In India, individuals, political parties, union state governments, unregistered self help groups and government departments can’t apply for a Community Radio licence. As for content regulation, at least 50% of the content that is aired needs to be produced locally. Also the programmes for broadcast need to be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community.

Other things that need to be kept in mind are the transmission/ technical guidelines and the funding sources which are usually multilateral aid agencies. He said that it is expected otherwise that the allowed ad time of 5 min per hour is expected to be able to cover the costs. He also said that the current policy envisions that the NGO is the representative of the community and that NGO radio is community radio. What is important is for the NGO’s to eventually hand over the radio stations to the community with the provisions of a sustainable model of CR.

Vasuki Belavadi, media researcher and faculty at University of Hyderabad.

Vasuki Belavadi began by talking about the history of community radio. He defined community radio as a powerful tool for change as it gives voice to the voiceless and started talking about the campaign for Community Radio in India. The Bangalore declaration and the Pasatapore initiative were mentioned and discussed. He also spoke about the role of Deccan Development society in launching its women run community radio in rural Andhra Pradesh and by discussing his efforts in launching a campus radio station for the University of Hyderabad, went on to outline how difficult it is to launch a community radio because of the indifference of the concerned government officials

Navin Chandra of Bharati Kakkad, Jago Mumbai Community Radio Station, Mumbai

Navin Chandra introduced the Union Park Residents’ Association and discussed their primary goals and objectives. The main idea was that unless citizens participate, the goal of any association or organisation won’t be achieved. Hence the Community Radio initiative. After a detailed outline of the programmes and activities of the Union Park Association, and a list of programmes they have in mind for the Community Radio, Mr.Navin Chandra admitted that as far as funds go, they have received a lukewarm response from the community and are therefore approaching Corporates for the same.

The discussion session that followed was based predominantly on the funding. “How to address issues/problems of finance, infrastructure and accessibility for marginalised people” and “can we not use the existing commercial base to addresss community issues” were some of the key questions to which all panellists gave their individual responses. The session came to an end with concluding remarks by Michelle Chawla who stressed that a community radio initiative is not just about establishing a radio station and that the entire community needs to be empowered. She pointed out the politics of spectrum allocation and concluded that though community radio is a power tool, the challenge to tap its potential lies ahead.

With this, the workshop broke for lunch. Break Out radio was aired during the lunch break.

The next session began at 2:00 p.m. The third panel was on Experiences of setting up and running CRSs or case studies in the life cycle of a CRS”. The discussant was Vasuki Belavadi. Neelam Kshirsagar of IMPACT India, Richard Rego of Radio Sarang, Mangalore, General Narsamma, radio producer from Radio Sangham of Deccan Development Society, District Medak, Andhra Pradesh, Sushama Shendge of Manndeshi Tarang Radio of Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha, Satara, Anujaa Shukla from Radio Bundelkhand of Development Alternatives at Orchha, Madhya Pradesh shared their experiences.

The panel began with an introductory film on Community Radio by Fr.Richard Rego, after which the panellists began sharing their experiences.

Neelam Kshirsagar of IMPACT India:

Neelam Kshirsagar gave an extensive outline of the projects of IMPACT India – namely the Life Line Express hospital train, The Mobile Diagnostic Clinics, Community Health Initiatives modelled on the NRHM. She concluded that IMPACT India has recognised the importance of establishing a community radio station and is exploring the idea of starting a radio station with focus on community health. The question was however of arriving at a context specific sustainable initiative.

Richard Rego of Radio Saarang, Mangalore:

Fr.Richard Rego began with an introduction of St.Alosiyus college of Mangalore and how they established their Community Radio. The objective of community radio, as the name suggests was to try and bridge the various linguistic, religious and regional differences in the area. The programmes aired included success stories and challenges in agriculture for the farmers, other programmes on fisheries for the fishermen, programmes on health and hygiene, programmes that recognised local talent, for young women of the area and so on. He also pointed out the challenges they faced. Though well received by the community and given complete autonomy by the management, the community radio is a little hard up for finances. The Ministry of Information Broadcast continues to ignore its letter requesting a standby transmitter and the programmes themselves are becoming increasingly hard to produce. On the brighter side, he mentioned that the radio station received its first ad for about 2,000 Rs. They plan to improve on this gradually. The objective was to break even and not to make profit.

General Narsamma, radio producer from Radio Sangham of Deccan Development Society, district medak, Andhra Pradesh

A year after the licence: Experience of Radio Sangham, Andhra Pradesh

General Narasamma began by giving a brief overview of Zahirabad and the intervention of Deccan Development Society in the area. The people initially didn’t have good clothes to wear or food to eat. Bonded labour was also rampant. The Deccan Development Society formed a “Sangam” of the 17 nearby villages and for the last 25 years has been working for the betterment of the area. To create internal dialogue within the community, the community radio initiative began ten years ago and for the last one year they have been successfully narrow casting to all the nearby villages that are part of the “Sangam”. General Narsamma said that a lot of things that they do on their community radio station has to do with their ancestral knowledge, food security, and seed security. People of all ages participate in this radio. They have 13 reporters who go to the field and they also have a studio for recordings. The content is about health, education, rules and policies etc. They also have an understanding with the people of the community where around 5000 people from 70 villages pay a shareholding of Rs. 50 a year to make a total amount of 2, 50,000 an annum. The even receive money from the DDS to air their programmes. Mr. Vasuki also added that even though DDS facilitated the setting up of Sangham Radio, a managing committee of dalit women was set up to decide how the radio was to be run and a community media trust was formed and therefore the radio charges even the DDS for production and airing of content. General Narsamma continued by saying that they also pay people transport and performance allowances when they visit their studio to perform.

The licence that has been issued to Sangham Radio is in the name of the Community Media Trust. The people who pay the yearly shareholding get no material benefits as they are not paying to listen but contributing to the sustenance of their radio station. What also helps is that there are no competitors in the area in the form of commercial FM channels. Ram Bhatt then raised the question of the constitution of a community based management model where it is important to keep in mind cross representation. He said that an eventual transfer from the NGO model to a community based model is also very important.

Sushma Shengde of Manndeshi Tarang, radio of Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha, Satara

Focussing on a specific audience: women and a radio station in Satara

Ms. Shengde began by explaining the beginnings of the Mann Vikas Samajik Sanstha which first set up the Manndeshi bank in western Maharashtra to provide microfinancing to women. One of the reasons for starting Manndeshi Tarang, the radio station was so that the women of the community could share their experiences with one another. The Manndeshi foundation also has many other programmes such as mobile health vans, mobile schools, cycles for school girls etc. Through the radio station they want to give opportunities to local artists and encourage regional cultures. The beneficiaries of the community radio are farmers, students, vendors, local artists and women.

The radio has recently completed a year and an impact assessment done by an intern from Holland showed that 100% of women in the area have benefitted from the radio station in some way or the other. She also said that it is essential to inform women about their rights and the various laws in place. She pointed out that some of the challenges that they faced while they were trying to get their radio station registered were those of language, accessibility to the offices in Delhi, high costs and stringent requirements. Another problem that they have faced is that of continuous content generation, availability of electricity, availability of trained people for technical support and the lack of financial support from the government or through advertisements. She later went on to connect it to the failure of the revenue development model.

Anuja Shukla from Radio Bundelkhand of Development Alternatives at Orchha, Madhya Pradesh.

Fostering content development by the community

Radio Bundelkhand received its licence on October 23rd, 2008 and broadcasts in the Tikumgadh and Jhansi districts of Madhya Pradesh which comprise a total 125 vilages out of which around 95 have good reception. They broadcast for around 5 hours daily and cater to a listening base of 2.5 lakh people with programmes that are related to their problems. The radio station also aims at preserving the cultural heritage of the area by encouraging folk music and as of now have more than 700 songs in their database. Also, all their programming is in Bundeli, the local language. Their process of programming includes identification of issues, research, scripting, expert opinion, recording, editing, broadcasting, and feedback through mail, phone or narrowcasting. They have also started a programme called Bundeli Idol which is a local talent hunt show that plays on their radio. She confirmed that a lot of administrative changes have taken place in their area because of it being discussed on Radio Bundelkhand.

A short tea break followed, during which Break out Radio was aired.

The Fourth and last panel for the day began soon after at around 4:00 p.m. It was on “The back end or technology to support a CRS”. The panel consisted of Hemant Babu of Nomad Radio India and Nagesh Babu, faculty, Centre of Media and Cultural Studies, TISS, Mumbai.

Hemant Babu of Nomad Radio

Talking about hardware: What you must know about CRS technology and what is permitted under the law

Hemant Babu began by asserting that ideally community radio should not require “experts” and that experts usually complicate matters. The aim of the Nomad India foundation was to simplify technology. He said that as of now transmitters are made by only two companies in India and that it is important that the transmitter can also be constructed by the community itself. It is also very important to keep in mind the community skill level and what the people can use easily and not what is the fanciest technology available when starting a community radio station. One also needs to keep in mind the available resources. He said that a good option was to start small and then upgrade as more resources become available. Also, community radio should not be about the revenue development model but about the desire to communicate.

He said that it is very important that one makes sensible decisions when it comes to technology because everything from free software to software worth 42 lacs of rupees is available for the same kind of work. The basic architecture that is required for setting up a community radio station is a studio, a transmitter and an antenna mast. All these can be made available at minimum costs by some imaginative techniques.

The discussion that followed began with identifying obtaining licence as the major hurdle for establishing a community radio. From technical questions regarding calculation of range and definitions of a black box transmitter, the discussion moved on to identifying broader challenges against Community Radio. Community Media in general was declared as important and with potential for overturning “frozen” moments of culture and fostering originality in terms of appreciating art and culture. It was essential to not think in terms of “preserving” or “protecting” a specific culture or art form, but be open for evolution of the same as otherwise, a community media initiative can end up as museum endeavour that “freezes” artefacts in a timeless space. The discussion came to an end with Mr.Nagesh giving a brief summary of each session that happened and calling for participants for the sessions the next day.

Day 2 28/11/09

The fifth panel commenced at around 10:00 am and was on “Once you get started, what’s next?”. The discussant was Chandran Gopalakrishnan, Brian Tellis from RadioActive, Mumbai, Chhavi Sachdev, producer and trainer of sonologue.com, Friji Karthikeyan, curator of streaming radio channel schizoid.in.

Brian Tellis, Radio Active, Mumbai :

The presentation focussed on how mobile technology, in all its recent advancement has immense potential for making community radio much more far reaching and personal. Basing his arguments on how a radio should be an extremely personal, one on one medium, Brian explored how the usage of mobile technology could increase interactivity and can be adapted to both under developed and developing markets. The thrust was on how mobile telephony was a complete radio set in itself that allows two way communication and if “Community Radio marries mobile telephony in its truest sense, a beautiful world of 360 degree communication” could be established.

Chavy Sachdev and Friji Karthikeyan then spoke about the potential of internet and how it could be tapped in broadcasting. While Chavy Sachdev spoke about Podcasts and how to use social networking sites such as facebook and twitter as platforms for publicity and interaction, Friji Karthikeyan spoke about her experiences in setting up her onine streaming channel, how it works and the challenges she continues to face.

A brief Tea break followed during which Break out radio was aired.

The sixth panel commenced soon after and was on “sustaining a CRS in the long run through popularity, production and finances”. The discussant was Chandita Mukherjee of Comet Media Foundation and the panellists were Bharati Ahir of Radio Ujjas of Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghatan, Bhuj, Amol Goje of Vasundhara Vahini Community Radio, Baramati, Ram Bhat of Maraa, Bangalore

Bharathi Ahir of radio Ujjas of KMVS: Trials and Triumphs

Sustaining a community radio for 10 years before the actual licence

The KMVS was started in 1989 and currently has around 12, 500 women members. The main goal of the organisation is to encourage the social, economic progress of the women. She said that the radio began after the organisation had already started a newsletter in the area called the Ujjas Patrika. Initially their programmes were broadcast on Akashwani but eventually KMVS purchased a half hour slot per week from Akashwani.The community radio which has been operational for the last 10 years costs KMVS approximately Rs. 3600 per month. Radio Ujjas also receives a lot of feedback from its listeners in the form of letters, phone calls etc. They also go to the field to receive feedback from listeners personally. A mid-time survey is conducted after 8-10 programmes. Now, they also have a studio to record in but they also record a lot on the field. The foundation has also brought out CD’s of traditional music and has a vast library of the same. Radio Ujjas applied for its license in 2007 but hasn’t yet received it. One of the most difficult things about the application for a license is the application form which constantly keeps changing. Another problem that they have faced is that as Kutch is a border area, clearances have to be obtained from defence officials too.

The session then broke for lunch during which Break Out Radio was aired. It resumed again at around 2:00 p.m. when Ram Bhat and Sajan Venniyoor spoke about Sustainability of Community Radio. He identified different components of a Radio Station and looked at how they could be made more sustainable. He spoke about Technological Sustainability, Programme Sustainability, Financial Sustainability, Personnel Sustainability and Social Sustainability.

The workshop concluded with discussions for a possible hands-on workshop in Goa in the month of April. This would be more like a residential training program for radio producers regarding content generation, editing etc. So get in touch with us if you want to be a part of it!

December 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

After the Workshop – what next?

After all the anxiety and hard work, it’s finally over. The workshop went off well with really interesting presentations from so many speakers and very meaningful interactions. The only disappointment was the small number of participants – a missed opportunity for manycivil society people to learn about this valuable tool to further their work.

December 4, 2009 at 7:46 am Leave a comment


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