Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Emergence of Community Radio: Harnessing Potential Role for Rural Development

Academic journal article Journal of Development Communication

Emergence of Community Radio: Harnessing Potential Role for Rural Development

Article excerpt

In the context of present rural scenario in India the community radio has added value to enable rural households, more importantly small and marginal farmers, artisans, fisher folk and women, to actively participate in the development programmes of the Government and commercial banks being implemented to significantly improve the productivity, output and profitability of small farms, rural and cottage industries, fish-farming and to empower women in the decision-making process in the Panchayati Raj Institutions at village levels. This should ultimately improve the standard of living of rural households, bring rural prosperity and erase rural-urban divide. This paper is divided in three parts, the first part deals with unique features of community radio and its related aspects having significance to rural India, the second part deals with review and initiatives taken by other countries including India and the third one presents the current rural scenario in India necessitating the establishment of community radio throughout the rural India during country's ensuing 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17).

Unique Features

A community radio station, by its broad based definition, is one that is operated by the community, in the community, for the community and about the community. The community for the purpose of community radio can be territorial or geographical--a township, village, block, tehsil, district or island. It can also be a group of people with common interests such as farmers, artisans, fisher folk, women, senior citizens, youth, children, ethnic groups, who can manage community radio. Community radio is confined to a small geographical area. It depends on low power transmission covering by and large not more than 20-30 km. radius. It serves a community, which uses common resources for livelihood, has common development issues and concerns, which are relatively localised, nevertheless connected to national and regional development goals.

It provides distinct advantages, such as (i) Scaling up information and communication capacities at grassroots. (ii) Capacity building

and skill up-gradation. (iii) Improving living conditions through relevant content in local languages. (iv) Providing a pubic interface. (v) Broadens the media choices of listeners and media consumers. (vi) Independent in nature and responsible to serve the community. (vii) Creates socio-cultural-economic impact in poverty reduction, in addressing development objectives and in democracy building. (viii) A medium to facilitate oral communication traditions with development issues.

The importance and positive impact of community radio in any developing nation are well documented which prove that community radio is capable of harnessing its unique nature and potential of upholding surpassed voices, practices and traditions, such as (i) It allows true participatory communication, which is essential for sustainable development. (ii] It serves a specific community, which is recognisable for development as regards its characteristics and needs. (iii) Its programmes are relevant to the community. (iv) It is an ideal communication tool for the illiterate population, which is still predominant in many countries. (v) It is cost efficient in terms of investments, which will make it financially and socially sustainable.

Best Practices

There are following, among others, best practices for Effective operations of community radio so as to achieve its enshrined objectives:

1) Access: Access to the facility is the primary step towards the full democratisation of the communication system. People have access not only to the media products but also to the media facilities. The feedback channel is always open and full interaction between the producers and receivers of messages is maintained.

2) Participation: Participation in the production and management of media is the logical step after access. …

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