Setting up community radio stations in India

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In December 2002, the Government of India approved a policy for the grant of licenses for setting up of Community Radio Stations to well established educational institutions including Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management (IITs/IIMs). The matter has been reconsidered and the Government of India has recently decided to broad base the policy by bringing ‘Non-profit’ organisations like civil society and voluntary organisations etc under its ambit in order to allow greater participation by the civil society on issues relating to development and social change. The detailed policy guidelines in this regard will be provided in i4d. In this issue, we are providing the basic principles, eligibility criteria, selection process and processing of applications, grant of permission agreement conditions, content regulation and monitoring. In next issue of i4d, we will provide information on imposition of penalty/revocation of permission agreement, transmitter power and range, funding and sustenance and other terms and conditions.

Basic principles

An organisation desirous of operating a Community Radio Station (CRS) must be able to satisfy and adhere to the following principles:

a) It should be explicitly constituted as a ‘non-profit’ organisation and should have a proven record of at least three years of service to the local community;

b) The CRS to be operated by it to be desig-ned to serve a specific local community;

c) Presence of an ownership and manage-ment structure that is reflective of the community that the CRS seeks to serve;

d) Programmes for broadcast to be in line with educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community;

e) It must be a legally registered (under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose).

Eligibility criteria

(i) The following typ
es of organisations shall be eligible to apply for Community Radio licences:

a) Community based organisations, which satisfy the basic principles listed  above. These would include civil society and voluntary organisations, State Agriculture Universities (SAUs), ICAR institutions, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Registered Societies and Autonomous Bodies and Public Trusts registered under Societies Act or any other such act relevant for the purpose. Registration at the time of application should at least be three years old;

b) Educational institutions.

(ii) The following shall not be eligible to run a CRS:

a) Individuals;

b) Political Parties and their affiliate organisations; [including students, women’s, trade unions and such other wings affiliated to these parties.];

c) Organisations operating with a motive to earn profit;

d) Organisations expressly banned by the Union and State Governments.

Selection process

(a) Applications shall be invited by the Ministry of I&B once every year through a national advertisement for establish-ment of CRSs. Eligible organisations and educational institutions can apply during the intervening period between the two advertisements also. The applicants shall be required to apply in the prescribed application form along with a processing fee of INR 2500/- and the applications shall be processed in the following way:

  • Universities, Deemed Universities
    and Government-run educational institutions will have a single window clearance by putting up cases before an inter-ministerial committee chaired by Secretary (I&B) for approval. No separate clearance from MHA & MHRD shall be necessary. Once the WPC Wing of the Ministry of Communication & IT earmarks a frequency at the place requested by the institution, a Letter of Intent (LOI) shall be issued.
  • In case of all other applicants, including private educational institutions, LOI shall be issued subject to receiving clearance from Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence & HRD (in case of private educational institutions) and frequency allocation
    by WPC wing of Ministry of Communication & IT.
    (b) A time schedule for obtaining clearances as below shall be prescribed.
  • Within one month of receipt of the application in the prescribed form, the Ministry of I&B shall process the application and either communicate to the applicant deficiencies, if any, or will send the copies of the application to the other Ministries for clearance as prescribed in para 3(a)(i) and 3(a)(ii) above, as the case may be.
  • The Ministries concerned shall communicate their clearance within three months of receipt of the application. However, in the event of the failure of the concerned ministry to grant the clearance within the period of three months, the case shall be referred to the Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (I&B) for a decision.
  • In the event of more than one applicant for a single frequency at a place, the successful applicant will be selected from the applicants by the Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (I&B) on the basis of their standing in the community, the commitment shown, the objectives enunciated and resources likely to be mobilised by the applicant organisation as well as its credentials and number of years of community service rendered by the organisation.
  • Within one month of the issue of the Letter of Intent (LOI) the eligible applicant are required to apply, in the prescribed format and with the fee, to the WPC Wing of the Ministry of Communication & IT, New Delhi for frequency allocation & SACFA clearance.
  • A time frame of six months from the date of application is prescribed for issue of SACFA clearance. In the event of non-receipt of such clearance from the Ministry of Communication & IT within the period of six months, the case will be referred to the Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (I&B) for a decision.
  • On receipt of SACFA clearance, the LOI holder shall furnish a bank guarantee in the prescribed format for a sum of INR 25, 000/-. Thereupon, the LOI holder will be invited to sign a Grant of Permission Agreement (GOPA) by Ministry of I&B, which will enable him to seek Wireless Operating License (WOL) from the WPC Wing of the Ministry of Communication & IT. The CRS can be made operational only after the receipt of WOL from the Ministry of Communication & IT.
  • Within three months of receipt of all clearances i.e signing of GOPA, the Permission Holder shall set up the Community Radio Station and shall intimate the date of commissioning of the Community Radio Station to the Ministry of I&B.
  • Failure to comply with time schedule prescribed shall make the LOI/GOPA holder liable for cancellation of its LOI/GOPA and forfeiture of Bank Guarantee.

Grant of Permission Agreement conditions

i) The Grant of Permission Agreement period shall be for five years.

ii) The Grant of Permission Agreement and the Permission letter will be non-transferable.

iii) No permission fee to be levied on  Permission Holders. However, the Permission Holders  to pay the spectrum usage fee to WPC wing of Ministry of Communication & IT.

iv) In case the Permission Holder does not commence his broadcasting operations within three months of the receipt of all clearances or shuts down broadcasting activity for more than 3 months after commencement of operation, its Permission is liable to be cancelled and the frequency allotted to the next eligible applicant.

v) An applicant/organisation shall not be granted more than one Permission for CRS operation at one or more places.

vi) The LOI Holder shall furnish a bank guarantee for a sum of INR 25,000/- only  to ensure timely performance of the Permission Agreement.

vii) If the Permission Holder fails to commission service within the stipulated period, he shall forfeit the amount of bank guarantee to the Government and the Government would be free to cancel the Permission issued to him.

Content regulation and monitoring

i) The programmes should be of immediate relevance to the community.  The emphasis should be on developmental, agricultural, health, educational, environmental, social welfare, community development and cultural programmes. The programming should reflect the special interests and needs of the local community.

ii) At least 50% of content shall be generated with the participation of the local community, for which the station has been set up.

iii) Programmes should preferably be in the local language and dialect(s).

iv) The Permission Holder shall have to adhere to the provisions of the Programme and Advertising Code as prescribed for All India Radio.

v) The Permission Holder shall preserve all programmes broadcast by the CRS for three months from the date of broadcast.

vi) The Permission Holder shall not broadcast any programmes, which relate to news and current affairs that are political.

vii) The Permission Holder to ensure that nothing is included in the programmes broadcast which:

a) Offends against good taste or decency;

b) Contains criticism of friendly countries;

c) Contains visuals or words contemp-tuous of religions, communities or religious groups or which either promote or result in promoting communal discontent or disharmony;

d) Contains anything obscene, defamatory, deliberate, false and suggestive innuendoes and half truths;

e) Encourages or incites violence or contains anything against main-tenance of law and order or which promote anti-national attitudes;

f) Contains anything amounting to contempt of court or anything affecting the integrity of the Nation;

g) Contains aspersions against the dignity of the President/Vice President and the Judiciary;

h) Criticises, maligns or slanders any individual in person or certain groups, segments of social, public and moral life of the country;

i) Encourages superstition or blind belief;

j) Denigrates women, children.

l) May present/depict/suggest as desirable the use of drugs including alcohol, narcotics and tobacco or may stereotype, incite, vilify or perpetuate hatred against or attempt to demean any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age or physical or mental disability.

viii) The Permission Holder shall ensure that due care is taken with respect to religious programmes with a view to avoid:

a) Exploitation of religious suscepti-bilities; and

b) Committing offence to the religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination. g
Copy of this document can be accessed at Look out for Part B of this article in February 2007 issue of i4d. 


Copy of this document can be accessed at Look out for Part B of this article in February 2007 issue of i4d.


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