Bhubaneswar, Dec 19:
The need of community radio as a tool of social change and empowerment of the community at large was emphasized at a three-day Community Radio Awareness Consultation which began at the SOA University here on Thursday.
“Communication being the driving force today, the community radio concept can become the tool for the empowerment of the marginalized and oppressed sections of the society,” former diplomat Abasar Beuria said while inaugurating the consultation in the Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER) campus.
The consultation has been organized by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in partnership with the Community Radio Association (RCA) and the ‘Voice of SOA Community’, the community radio station run by the SOA University.
Community radio, Behuria said, got a boost following a judicial ruling that called for democratization of the media and laid down that the airwaves could not be monopolized.
However, those running community radio stations must ensure the programs has acceptability among the masses and think of innovative programs, he pointed out.
He said that the community radio system was working very well in countries like Nepal and Philippines.
Vice-Chancellor of SOA University, Prof RP Mohanty, who presided over the inaugural function, said community radio should be used as a vehicle for social change and betterment of human life. It cannot be viewed as a business venture, he said.
Inderjeet Grewal, Deputy Director in the ministry of Information and Broadcasting, who spoke on the occasion, described community radio as inexpensive and vibrant medium of empowering the community.
The community radio policy was first introduced by the government in 2002 when only educational institutions were allowed to set up radio stations but it was broad-based four years later when the civil society was also permitted to run the same.
Stating that two community radio stations in Odisha did commendable job by informing the people when cyclone Phailin struck the state last October, Grewal said at present only six community radio stations were operating in the state though the licence had been issued in favour of around 30 organisations.
Dr R Sreedhar, media expert and known as the pioneer in the field of community radio by setting up the first such station in the Anna University, said it provided a platform to the community to express itself. He hoped that Odisha would become the leader in pioneering the community radio concept.
MK Patnaik, advisor in the Wireless Processing and Coordination department in the ministry of Telecommunications and a key person in the development of community radio, described the expansion of this concept as a movement which could help bring in social change.