August 24, 2015
From providing mere educational content, Community Radio stations are turning out to be a tool for community based development and awareness. The three stations in Coimbatore stand testimony to this.
After almost a decade of existence, the radio stations, a noble initiative on the part of many educational institutions, have gone to prove that they value community existence and the need to reach out to the real public.
The three stations, PSG College of Technology operated ‘PSG Community Radio 107.8’, ‘Rathinavani’ by Rathinam Group of Institutions, and ‘TNAU Vyavasayee’ of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, are very active, and has a coverage of about 15 to 20 km.
PSG Community FM, funded by the PSG & Sons’ Charities, is popular among the public for programmes like Ladies Time, Hello Hello Suguma, Magalir Neram, and Ula Manjari. Hello Students focuses on education and career. The programmes cater to various age groups.
According to S. Chandrasekharan, Chairman of PSG Community FM, “Community radios now face the challenge of airing innovative programmes conforming to broadcasting rules. Arranging enough funds to conduct outreach programmes is becoming difficult all over the nation.”
The station also has options of sharing audio files with audience, and operating online to reach out to the maximum extent.
TNAU’s station broadcasts programmes for farmers and others who have similar interests. The radio also conducts online-phone in programmes to address issues related to agriculture and rural development. Information about weather and crop patterns is provided regularly.
Rathinavani, started three years ago, has now become a major social development tool reaching out to migrants around SIDCO Industrial estate. It conducts ‘En Naadu En Urimai’ (My nation my rights) to create awareness about their rights for the benefit of unskilled labours in and around SIDCO.
“We have been witnessing tremendous change in the social set up of unskilled labourers as a result of the programme. The practical mathematics project that we aired made them knowledgeable about calculating salary for the month, interest for loans, etc., thus protecting them from fraudsters,” said Jibin, Director of Rathinavani.
The only advertisement income of a community radio comes from the Department of Audio Visual Publicity. Other than that, the stations face difficulty in financing programmes as they come under the broadcasting codes of AIR.
Community Radio stations are sanctioned by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, after a license scrutiny of the parent organization. The license to run a Community FM has to be renewed every year with a fee. The programmes and advertisements should follow the AIR codes, where programmes should be aired as news or community-centred educational information.