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The Scope and the Context


Haricharan Verma

OTHER VOICES: THE STRUGGLE FOR COMMUNITY RADIO IN INDIA
By Vinod Pavarala and Kanchan K. Malik
Sage, Delhi, 2007, pp. 322, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 1 January 2010

The context of Community Radio differs from country to country and the communities therein. In the West it started as political propaganda machine and this was called pirate radio, since airwaves were considered government property or state property. Even in the twenty-first century it is not public property in the true sense. But now the concerns are not state control, but as the authors of the book Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India have stated: ‘Freedom of expression and equitable access of communication media are gravely threatened in the twenty-first century, not by excessive use of state power as in earlier period, but rather from the unhindered growth of media organisations into large-scale conglomerates.’ The book contains eight chapters, including the introductory and concluding chapters. Chapter 2 compares community radio policies of five countries—Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Canada and USA with a view to understand the contours and content of progressive state policy that promote democratic media. Chapter 3 traces the growth and development of broadcasting in India from a media policy perspective and attempts to probe within the historical and contemporary contexts, the issues, dilemmas and political realities associated with opening up of radio broadcasting for the non-profit social sector, Chapter 4 offers detailed profiles of the NGOs and their four community radio initiatives—‘Chala Ho Gaon Mein’ of Jharkhand, ‘Ujjas Radio’ of Gujrat, ‘Namma Dhwani’ of Karnatka and ‘Sangam Radio’ of Andhra Pradesh—that were examined in this study. Chapter 5, 6 and 7 are thematic chapters that knit together the empirical observations and analysis of case studies of community radio initiatives with the theoretical insights. This book has also four useful Appendices of important court decisions, declaration and recommendations related to the subject. In the concluding chapters the authors have also made recommendations for a policy on community radio, which are very useful. Out of four community radio initiatives studied by the authors, the two in Jharkhand and Gujarat have some sponsored slots of All India Radio Stations, the one in Karnatka has taken the cable root to broadcast the programmes through TV sets and the one in Andhra Pradesh has developed all itscapabilities to broadcast radio programmes though its own transmitter, but waiting for the license from the Government; meanwhile, they are playing their recorded programmes in the community meetings. (Incidentally, now this community radio named as ‘Sangam Radio’ has started broadcasting since 15th October, 2008 and is first ...


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