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CURRENT STATUS OF COMMUNITY RADIO IN ASSAM


Mr. Alakesh Das

Community radio is a type of radio service that offers a third model of radio broadcasting beyond AM (Amplitude Modulation) Radio,i.e. Public Service Broadcaster Radio or All India Radio(AIR) and Commercial FM Radio. Community radio stations can serve specific geographic communities and communities of interest. They broadcast content which is popular and relevant to a local/specific audience but which may often be overlooked by commercial or mainstream mass-media broadcasters. Community radio stations are operated, owned and driven by the communities they serve. Community radio is a non-profit organization and provides a mechanism for facilitating individuals, groups and communities to tell their own diverse stories, to share experiences and in a media rich world to become active creators of media. In short, community radio is the voice for the voiceless.

                  In India, the campaign to legitimise community radio began in the mid 1990s, soon after the Supreme Court of India ruled in its judgment of February 1995 that “airwaves are public property”. Anna FM is India’s first campus ‘community’ radio, launched on 1st February 2004, which is run by Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EMRC), and all programmes are produced by the students of Media Sciences at Anna University, Chennai. Although around 200 community radio stations are in operation in India presently, but in Assam the community radio scenario is still in the grassroot or infant stage. Because till date although several efforts have been put up to establish community radio stations in Assam, but in reality so far only three community radio stations have got the Wireless Operating Licence (WOL) in Assam, namely Jnan Taranga,90.4 FM of Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, Guwahati,  Radio Luit,90.8 FM of Gauhati University, Guwahati and Brahmaputra Community Radio Station,90.4 FM, Dibrugarh. These three community radio stations are doing programmes on various aspects of development such as health, agriculture, sanitation, culture, science, law, education, folk music, women, children, gender issues, environment, financial literacy, employment, sports, community voice, rural issues, disability issues etc. The first community radio station of Assam was established on November, 20, 2010 i.e. the Jnan Taranga,90.4 FM in the Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University, Guwahati, Housefed Complex. After that the second  community radio station of Assam was launched on March,01,2011, i.e. Radio Luit,90.8 FM in the Gauhati University,Guwahati which is till date situated in the premise of Institute of Distance and Open Learning(IDOL), Gauhati University,Guwahati. The third community radio of the state was formally launched in July,2015 at the Maijan Borsaikia Gaon under Hiloidhari post office in Dibrugarh with the name Brahmaputra Community Radio Station,90.4 FM. Three key words namely Community, Radio and Community Radio have been elaborated in this article.

  1. Jnan Taranga,90.4 FM, KKHSOU,Guwahati:  Jnan Taranga broadcasts for 24 hours regularly. The broadcast schedule consists of Live 8 hours which starts from 9 AM in the morning till 1 PM including complete community based programmes like health tips, environment based programmes, life of a great person alongwith birthday wishes, satire and beauty tips.They broadcast content of Jnan Taranga mainly consists of community-based programmes. The programmes are on subjects like health, sports, career, science, woman, children, agriculture, horticulture, climate change, environment etc. Some important programmes of the station are—
  1. Parampara—Programme on folk culture of Assam
  2. Topal Topal—Voice of the marginalized people
  3. Chinaki Batere Apunar Jatra—Programme on Tourism spots and monuments
  4. Manar Khobor—Live phone in  programme
  5. Yuva Taranga—Youth Oriented Programme
  6. Sishu Tirtha—Programme on children
  7. Hengul Baran—Programme on senoor citizens
  8. Janajiwan—Programme on tribals and ethnic groups
  9. Lecheri Butoli—Programme on street children
  10. Sakhi Sanjeevani-Programme on Women’s health

 

 

  1. Radio Luit, 90.8 FM, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam: During the last six years, Radio Luit endeavoured to meet the aspirations of the Gauhati University Community and the people of the surrounding villages by broadcasting various programmes. It has been a constant effort on the part of Radio Luit to involve the Community not only in listening various programme but also in production of various programes. Students, Teachers, Employees of the University, their family members, community members  from the fringe areas have been actively participating in running the Radio Luit. The most participating programme is ‘Mukoli sora’ (Open Forum), where maximum participation of the Community members is ensured. It is conducted through Live phone-in methods. Phone lines open at 19:00:00 hrs and closes at 20:00:00. On the last Sunday of every month there is another interested programme ‘Luitar shrotaa ’; where one regular listener is invited to the studio to participate in a live programme and interact with other community members in the last Sunday of every month.

Radio Luit is currently doing a total of 12 hours of broadcast everyday from 8 am to 8 pm out of which a total of 7 hours are live broadcasts and 5 hours are the repeat broadcasts of the previous days’ broadcast. Radio Luit is broadcasting programmes on various themes such as health, agriculture, law, education, entertainment, culture, folk culture, science, women, children, food, sports, western music, advertisements etc. It has several programme formats such as talk, drama, feature, audio magazine, interview, panel discussion, live phone in, field programme, vox populi etc. Also Radio Luit has of late broadcast programmes on disaster management issues in various formats such as drama, feature etc. in collaboration with the Late Anamika Ray Memorial Trust.

The progarmmes are broadcast in diverse languages such as Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Bodo, English etc.

The following are the important programmes of Radio Luit:

  • Aaradhana- Programme on Devotional songs.
  • Bigyan Prasanga- Science based Talk.
  • Byaktitwa- Interview(Set piece/Door Stepper) with community members.
  • Bidhan Samidhan-Interview programme on legal issues.
  • Sangsthapan- Employment news programme.
  • Audio Feature on various issues.
  • Krishi Katha- Discussion/Interview/Field based(mostly studio based).
  • Gawe Bhuye- Field programme for rural audiences which may be on music, health, sanitation etc. and the programme is interactive in nature.
  • Luit Sambad-News from inside the university and surrounding areas.
  • Shringer- Live phone in on beauty tips and fashion.
  • Amar Katha- It is a field based interview programme where the announcer can go to any place and can have an interaction with community members. In short, it is a vox populi.
  • Amar Ghar- Another interactive programme where the announcer can go to any particular family and can have a chat with them about an issue.
  • Programmes on folk music, old Hindi songs, Assamese songs etc.
  • Aalap- one to one interview programme either set piece or door stepper.
  • Shariram Adhyam- Health related programme either studio based or door stepper
  • Jutire Akhaj- Interview programme on recipes(Set piece/door stepper)
  • Malini- Programme on community women or prominent women in interview format either set piece or door stepper.
  • Sonali Geetor aare aare- Musical narration of a song
  • Tip Se Bani Tippani- Ad promo
  • Boroniya- Field based interactive programme in schools, colleges, university departments etc.
  • Xetu- Book Review
  • Sobi Kotha- Film Review
  • Bikhyon- Panel discussion programme
  • Prajanma- Live phone in interactive programme where a youth is invited to the studio and he or she has an interaction with the anchor as well as the listeners.
  • Quizzeria- Live phone in programme on Quiz
  • Westusic- Programme on western music.
  • Geetali- Feature on music
  • Drama
  • Deoboriya Sangsthapan
  • Kakali- Field based programme on children on themes such as rhymes, poems, drama etc.
  • Bandhabi- A series of programmes on Womens’ Health and Nutrition being broadcast by Radio Luit, 90.8 FM, Gauhati University under a project sponsored by the National Council of Science and Technology(NCSTC),Department of Science and Technology(DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India in collaboration with Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia(CEMCA),New Delhi. This programme is being done by the various community women.
  • Mukoli Chora, Live phone in programme from 7 pm to 8 pm everyday.
  • Patrika-Audio Magazine
  • Krira Parikroma-Programme on sports
  • ‘Deuka’ –Programme newly introduced for the disabled people.
  • ‘Anumonjori’—Programme based on Literature predominantly.
  • Educational as well as general talks.
  • Advertisements of DAVP mainly on development issues.

 

 

3. Brahmaputra Community Radio Station,90.4 FM(BCRS),Dibrugarh,Assam:

Brahmaputra Community Radio Station is the first civil society led community Radio Station of North-East Region of India. It covered near about 6 laks population of Dibrugarh and Dhemaji Districts. It broadcast program in five different language and dialects in Assamese, Chadri (Tea Community dialect), Bhojpuri, Mishing (Dialect of Mishing tribes) and Bodo (Language of Bodo community) covering the most marginalized communities of tea garden, island population of River Brahmaputra and general village community as well as slum population of the District.

Currently, Radio Brahmaputra broadcasting 10 hours of programmes from Monday-Sunday  covering most of the community issues in health, education, disaster management, financial literacy, domestic violence, gender issues, environment, local culture & tradition etc.

Some important programmes of BCRS—

  1. Dinlipi—Information based programme
  2. Aideo Akhol—Cookery based programme
  3. Mor Jiwonor Katha—Life sories of marginalized people
  4. Krikhakar Katha—Fram broadcast
  5. Jiwika—Programme on Livelihood
  6. Rongpuli—Womens’ Programme in Assamese
  7. Konmainar Mela—Children’s programme in Chadri etc.
  8. 8Keas Matir Xubax : Folk song in Assamese
  9. 9.Apunar Swathya Amar Diha: Health Programme in Assamese
  10. 10.Prasangik: Program on rights and Govt schemes
  1. khass bat: interview program in chadri
  2. kahanike dunia: story based program in chadri
  3. yuva santhi: youth base program in chadri
  4. mon ker awaz: program of tea community
  5. dhol madalar tale tale: folk song program of tea community
  6. cha gaser maje maje: women based program of tea community
  7. adda: discussion program in chad
  8. darpan: health program in bhojpuri
  9. yuva manch: youth program in bhojpuri
  10. anchal: women program in bhojpuri
  11. gap-sap: disscussion program of bhojpuri community

      In a nutshell, it can be concluded that the current status of Community Radio in Assam is not very satisfactory in terms of number because of the fact that in comparison to other parts of the country, the community radio scenario is very much lagging behind in Assam with just three community radio stations operating from the state with Wireless Operating Licence(WOL), amongst the 200 community radio stations operating from the country overall. But program wise the three operational community radio stations are fulfilling the actual purpose of community development in the real sense of the term.

The writer is the Assistant Professor of  Mass Communication and Journalism, IDOL, Gauhati University. He can be reached at alakeshdas.153@gmail.com

                             

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