In India, there are three types of radio broadcasting. Those are public, private and community radio. Community Radio is one which is operated by the people, for the people and covers local issues of the community. It is a non-profit organisation which works for the welfare of the people. Some of its characteristics are as follows. It serves a recognisable community and encourages participatory democracy. It allows a particular community to put forward their problems and work towards a solution. What sets it apart from the public and private radios is its non-profit nature and its emphasis on coverage of local issues.
There are a number of community radios in India. All of them are working towards their respective target audiences. For instance, Sangam Radio in Andhra Pradesh, Radio Matoli in Kerela, Barefoot in Rajasthan and Namma Dhwani in Karnataka. All of them are local and regional in Character.
For community radio to succeed in the future it is very important for it to clear certain hurdles. One issue is that of policies and laws. The government if not funding, needs to promote community radio from its side. They need to recognise the role it plays in social and economic development. Community radio alone can not be a medium to reach the marginalised section of the society. It needs to be accompanied by ground level initiatives. For example, the Udaan campaign by Radio Udaan. In which the employees went door to door distributing pamphlets and raising awareness about disability. It should be seen as an add-on factor and not the only means for social development.
Financial consideration and funding are important for the growth of this sector. License conditions favours well-funded radio stations as compared to low power radio stations. Since these community radio stations serve the poor rural populations earning a revenue through subscription is not an available option. Therefore, external support becomes even more necessary. Danish Mahajan, owner of Radio Udaan has spoken about the financial difficulties they have to go through. Their monthly expenditure is around 50-70 thousand but since three years they have only received 2 lakh rupees. There needs to be enough funding for purchasing technical and programming equipment and editing software. For this external support through contributions is a must.
Community radio has great amount of potential to spread developmental messages. However, first there needs to be an agenda, based on collective needs, which will benefit the society at large. Most of the communities depend upon Non-Governmental organisations(NGO) to handle this whole process. A lot of communities have applied for licenses but it has been rejected due to one reason or the other. At times the processing time period is so long that the communities loose their enthusiasm. Everyone needs to stop depending on the government and take a lead in their respective directions. This is important for community radio to prosper.
In order to make it a popular medium it is important to speed up the growth in the community radio sector. More platforms for open dialogue should be created. In which the government, community radios and organisations interested in funding can interact. In these forums operational costs and hassles, technical expertise and funding can be discussed. All the required negotiations can also take place here. One of the chief problems faced by various community radios is that of sustenance. Since according to Ministry of information guidelines clearly state that government will play no role, they need to find other means of sustenance. Community radio station can not remain dependent on government and need to find a solution themselves for all the problems encountered by them.
Workshops at the regional level should be organised to encourage people to set up community radios. Owners of successful community radio stations should be called in these workshops. So that they can talk about their entire journey and how they went about tackling each problem as it came.
To conclude we can say that the future of community radio depends mainly on two things. One is funding from external sources. So that they are able to purchase high-end equipment and editing softwares. Second is peoples participation. More and more people need to come forward and start their radio stations in their respective community. Since community radio is handled entirely by the people of the community and no amount of dependence should be done on the government.