ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Has the Radio Been a Catalyst for Social Change?

This reading list examines if the radio has been successfully democratised.

Breaking Free

Radio is an inexpensive medium in terms of production and management. It overcomes the limitations of literacy and is more appropriate for cultures dominated by orality. All over the third world radio has been a catalyst for social change. Although the state-owned public service broadcaster, All India Radio has turned 75, broadcasting in our country continues to be governed by archaic laws and uncompromising bureaucracy. Recent developments however may make for some loosening of the state's hold over radio, making room for alternatives in the form of popular, community-based media. This collection of five articles attempts to raise some critical questions related to broadcasting in India, with specific reference to community radio

Community Radio

There are lessons to be learnt from the experiments in developing community run/owned radio in south Asia and outside. The Philippines has taken community radio to new heights and even tiny Nepal has opened up its community broadcasting, and in Sri Lanka community radio stations are owned by the state.

Promise of Citizens' Media

Community radio - the cheapest and most accessible of the electronic mass media - is ruled out in many countries because of legal restrictions. This paper looks at community radio in Australia and South Africa. Australia has a mature 'third tier' of broadcasting, now over 20 years old, facing the problems of an established sector, with consistent if relatively diminishing state support. As a relatively new democracy, South Africa's adoption of community radio is significant on a global scale. As the debate around community radio in India gathers momentum, and various initiatives start to emerge, some of the challenges they currently face may have lessons for India.

Community Radio

Earlier this year, the government unveiled its rules that allow educational institutions to set up `community radio' stations. But, as several institutions stumbling over many obstacles to seek licences have found, the government is not at all comfortable about allowing this low cost communication technology to be put to wide use.

Managing Radio Frequency Spectrum

Radio spectrum is a limited resource and by tradition has come to be owned by the state. Its use has to be regulated in terms of purpose of use, place, transmitted power and coverage including directivity. In India the sharp demand for allotment of radio spectrum arose in the 1990s with the introduction of cellular mobile radio. The government and its agencies have not been particularly able or wise in coping with the diverse demands since then.
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