The Ministry of
Communications & IT has decided to waive off spectrum fee for Community
Radio Services (CRS). This follows requests received from National
Advisory Council, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the
Community Radio Association for waiver of spectrum charges for Community
Keeping in mind that the Government’s role is to create an enabling
environment for CRS, Sh Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications & IT has
asked Department of Telecom to evolve detailed guidelines by 12th
October, to ensure that the spectrum is optimally used and the channels
use these airwaves only to inform and empower the common man. It was
felt that in the interest of inclusive and informed society, it is apt
that Government provide the spectrum (airwaves) for CRS at zero cost.
Although this may result in an opportunity cost of not more than Rs. 25
lakh to the Government, the cost is far outweighed by the benefit of
informed, empowered and inclusive local communities and the nation.
Sustainability is the biggest challenge for CRS. Community radio focuses
on low cost and low return pattern of operations. Donor funding is
crucial for CRS. As most of the donors come from local communities, this
financing option is inadequate and irregular for CRS operating in remote
areas and for the marginalized sections of the society.
Community Radio Services (CRS) plays a vital role in building vibrant
communities, in mobilizing groups to action by informing and empowering
citizens, in giving voice to the marginalized groups of society, and in
bringing community needs to the attention of local and even national
governments. CRS can prove to be an excellent tool for managing
plurality in a society and for fostering democracy.