Women’s community radio station
On the International Women’s Day (March 8) this year, an independent women’s community radio station, Radio Zohra, in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was officially inaugurated. It is supported by the institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Internews and USAID-OTI. Radio Zohra broadcasts on 90.5 FM in Kunduz and it covers a radius of 20 kms and reaches a population of approximately 350,000. It is the third in a network of independent women’s community radio stations in Afghanistan, established by IMPACS and Internews. The first station was Radio Balkhi in Mazar-I-Sharif, established in March 2003, the second one is Radio Sahar-in-Heart which went on air in October, 2003.
BBS serves Bhutan radio
Bhutanese radio broadcasting begun in 1973. With low literacy and a small percentage of electrical grid coverage, radio is a very popular medium in this country. Bhutan is served by the state-sponsored Bhutan Broadcasting System (BBS) which own and operate the broadcasting operation. BBS radio broadcasts 12 hours every day and gives a daily news bulletin in 4 languages. Its main objective is to inform, educate and entertain the public. Use of Internet was started in Bhutan in 1999, but still it has been restricted to urban areas. Bhutan’s only Internet Service Provider (ISP), Druknet was initially conceived merely as a domestic e-mail service, keeping Bhutan sealed off from the rest of the world; but the-then king decided to give Bhutanese citizens limited access to the World Wide Web. Internet was introduced to Bhutan in 1999. In 2000, UNESCO sparked the idea of radio-browsing programmes to provide information from the Internet to the disadvantaged and illiterate people and to increase awareness of new ICTs.
Namma Dhwani (Our Voices)
India’s first independent community radio initiative is in Boodikote village, Karnataka. It is a cable radio service because India forbids communities to use the airwaves. With the help of UN funds, a media advocacy group, VOICES laid cables, sold subsidised radios with cable jacks to villages and trained young people to run the station. Since March 2003, the beginning of broadcast, Our Voice Community Radio has played a major role in community life. It is cracked with the sound of school children singing songs and giggling to jokes, of young girls talking fearlessly about evils of dowry and admonishing boys for teasing them at school; of women giving out recipes and teaching others how to open a bank account and of farmers debating the vagaries of weather and fluctuating crop prices.
Pastapur Women’s radio
The Zaheerabad area in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh where the Deccan Development Society (DDS) works, falls in one of the least developed regions of the country, Telengana, and is contiguous with the least developed districts of North Karnataka. Deccan Development Society (DDS), a grassroots organisation working with Sangams (village level groups) of poor women, most of whom are Dalits, have evolved programmes with three principles: gender justice, environmental-soundness and people’s knowledge. The UNESCO recognised the presence and services rendered by the DDS in the region with regard to empowerment and education of the poorest of the poor women and facilitated funding for establishing a radio station in Machnoor village.
On October 2, 1996, James Bentley, Regional Communication Adviser (Asia), UNESCO had a consultation with about 35 women from the sangams of DDS. Based on the felt needs, narrated by the local women and UNESCO’s interest in women’s development and democratisation of communication media, DDS was identified as a suitable partner for UNESCO’s ‘Women Speak to Women’ project.
It was proposed to operationalise a low-cost radio station, subject to issuance of a license by the Government of India. As part of this, DDS initiated necessary steps for establishing a radio station. The FM station is designed to work on the audiocassette technology. It has two FM transmitters and a 100-meter transmission tower, which has a capacity to broadcast to a radius of 30 kms, roughly, the coverage area of DDS. DDS inaugurated its Community Media Centre on October 15 (the International Rural Women’s Day) 2001.
The Pastapur Women’s radio, in spite of its long time readiness to go on air, is still awaiting a community-broadcasting license as the Central government is still finalizing the regulations of the new broadcasting legislation. In the meantime, the studio facilities are being used to produce audiocassettes on issues related to women empowerment, agricultural needs of semi-arid regions, public health and hygiene, indigenous knowledge systems, biodiversity and food security and local song and drama.
Maldives radio (Community radio and SHE)
‘Radio Haveeru’, a 15-minute radio programme broadcast from the Voice of Maldives, focuses on rural development. It includes some aspects of adolescence reproductive health. The same programme is repeated in the evening when most of the people come back to their homes after work. Another women’s issue oriented programme is broadcast at mid-morning.
It aims at the women who stay at home. Radio spots on Thalassaemia and family planning had already been produced and broadcast by the Voices of Maldives, under the guidance of SHE. From 1996 to 1998, in total 45 radio programmes have been produced and broadcast 90 times. The topics targetting the community are adolescent sexual and reproductive health, thalassaemia, AIDS, family planning, pregnancies, food and nutrition.
Nepal has changed from a monarchy and a one-party political system to a more democratic form of government in 1990. This was the main factor that opened up new possibility to democratise the electronic media which was formerly controlled as a whole by the government. Nepal’s National Communication Policy Act (1993), prepared by a special task force was the main force behind Nepal’s first independent community broadcasting station as well as South Asia’s first major effort at ‘independent community radio’, Radio Sagarmatha. A major provision of the act was the private sector participation in FM broadcasting.
‘Sagarmatha’ is the Nepali name of the Mount Everest. It means the head in the heavens. The radio Sagarmatha was established with financial and technical assisstance provided under UNESCO’s international programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The programmes broadcast from this radio station cover growing air pollution problem of Kathmandu, urbanisation and its impact on the heritage sites, tourism, the threat of HIV/AIDS and garbage disposal.
It also celebrates the ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity of the people around Kathmandu valley. It is an initiative of the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) and is governed by a board that includes Himal Association, Nepal Press Institute and Worldview Nepal.
Internews has implemented a one year project funded by USAID that includes advising the Pakistan government on media law and providing training to journalists and station managers of the country’s first private radio stations. As a part of the project, it has built a state-of-the-art independent radio production facility at the Uks foundation, an NGO in Islamabad that works on the portrayal of women in the media. Here women journalists are being trained to produce radio programmes.
Prior to the Internews programme, none of the women worked for non-government radio. Only 3 per cent of all the journalists were women. The country’s first independent syndicated programmes were launched by Internews-trained women journalists at Uks Foundation. Internews also helped to build the country’s first university-based community radio station at Peshwar University, situated in the North-West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.
It has also worked with a community radio station in Lakki Marwat near the FATA region to raise awareness about modern farming practices in the region such as drip irrigation. The Lakki stations coverage includes tribal FATA region.
There are 26 licensees in Pakistan, distributed over 17 cities. The cities and the licensees are as follows:
- Karachi: Kohinoor Airwaves, Lahore; Shamal Media Services, Karachi; Vectracom, Karachi; Tradeserve International, Islamabad; Syndicate Entertainment, Karachi.
- Lahore: Kohinoor Airwaves, Lahore; Shamal Media Services, Karachi; Tradeserve Intl. Islamabad.
- Faisabad: Kohinoor Airwaves, Lahore; Tradeserve International Islamabad.
- Islamabad/Rwp: Kohinoor Airwaves, Lahore; The Communicators, Islamabad; Shamal Media Services, Karachi.
- Multan: Tradeserve Intl. Islamabad.
- Vehari: The Communicators, Islamabad.
- Sukkur: Shamal Media Services, Karachi.
- Peshawar: Interactive Communications, Islamabad.
- Sarai Naurang: SAIF Intl. Combined, Islamabad.
- Gujrat: Future Tech Engg. Islamad.
- Sialkot: Interactive Communications, Islamabad.
- Abbotabad: The Communicators, Islamabad.
- Hub Chowki: SALLAR Engg. Islamabad.
- Muridke: SALLAR Engg. Islamabad.
- Changla Gali: SALLAR Engg. Islamabad.
- Gwadar: SALLAR Engg. Islamabad.
- Bahawalpur: KATS Comm. Multan.
Courtesy: Agha Iqrar Haroon
Mahaweli community radio
The Mahaweli Community Radio (MCR) concept was a modified version of the experience of Baandvaerkstedet