Airwaves are public property and the myth that they are the monopoly of the state has been broken, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley said as he pitched for expansion of community radio.
Inaugurating the 5th National Community Radio Sammelan here, Jaitley said: “The right to free speech does not belong to a broadcaster alone but also to the listener as he has a right to information and facts.”
“There can’t be a better idea than community radio (for its effective implementation),” he said.
Jaitley said the idea of community radio in most parts of the country had been a “wonderful idea” and “it should expand”.
The minister said there was a feeling two decades ago that airwaves were a monopoly of the state. “That myth was broken. Airwaves are public property.”
He said the conference would provide valuable feedback to the ministry for its policy formulations.
Jaitley released a compendium containing inspiring stories of community radios from all over the country.
Jaitely and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore also gave awards to community radio stations in different categories.
Information and Broadcasting Ministry Secretary Bimal Julka said the government had so far issued 409 permissions to set up community radio stations in India, of which 179 stations have become operational and others were in the pipeline.
“(There should be) 600 community radio stations by the end of 12th plan,” Julka said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid lot of emphasis on community radio and his ‘Maan Ki Baat’ programme on radio has reached all parts of the country.
Julka said community radio offered a third model of radio broadcasting in addition to commercial and public broadcasting and was one of the best tools to empower rural communities.
He said public broadcasting may have to compete with the community radio in the future.
The three-day workshop at Vigyan Bhavan here brings together operators, policy makers, UN agencies and other stakeholders for exchange of ideas and cross learning.
During the conference, discussion will be held on community radio movement in the country and its role in setting the agenda for discourse on development at the local level.
The information and broadcasting ministry has been organising the sammelan anually since 2011.