How to Start Community Radio Station (India)?
Learn how to start a community radio station. This step-by-step manual explains how to start, set up, and run a CRS. The Complete Beginner’s Handbook guides you through the policies and guidelines of the government of India for establishing, airing, and running your community radio station. You can join the growing network of radio broadcasters (CRS) in India by submitting a community radio application form. The minimum capital contribution can be Rs. 4,50,000 (INR) for operational expenses, studio setup, and equipment.
You must first submit this community radio application form for a license in order to launch a community radio station (CRS). The next stage is to adhere to the policies and guidelines provided by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India). Apparently, you are ready to tune in and broadcast your station as soon as all license requirements have been satisfied.
What is a Community Radio Station?
A community radio station (CRS) is the third form of broadcast media that is founded on non-commercial or free speech principles. The goal of this FM radio is to strengthen communities in the areas that commercial FM broadcasters usually ignore. This is possible by enabling the participation of communities on the radio to empower them. Thus the content is created by the community, for the community. In essence, community radio stations are low-powered FM radio stations built, started, and run by local communities. Broadcasting the regional voice, skills, and dialects is obviously a concept. Educational institutions, agricultural institutes, and NGOs (non-profit civil society groups) are all eligible to apply for community radio licenses from India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Everyone obviously has to adhere to the policy and guidelines set by the government of India.
Step By Step Guide on How to Start a Community Radio Station in India?
The following is an authentic 6-step guide for starting a community radio station as prescribed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India. The licensing process for starting your own community radio station (CRS) in India is outlined below.
Time needed: 5 minutes.
- Getting the (LOI) Letter of Intent for setting up the (CRS) Community Radio Station
If you want to start a community radio station, you must fill & submit the community radio application form to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the prescribed format for the issuance of a letter of intent for the establishment of a community radio station in India. The application fee is Rs.2500/-, which must be paid to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting via the Bharatkosh Portal of the Government of India.
- The frequency allotment to WPC
The applicant must submit an online application in the prescribed format to the Wireless Planning Commission (WPC) of the Ministry of Telecommunication for the frequency allotment for the proposed community radio station. Following your submission of hard copies of the application to WPC, they will issue an LOI for you to obtain the frequency. They will also inform you that you must pay Rs. 23500/-in spectrum charges for the frequency in order to start your community radio station in India.
- Paying spectrum charges & getting the decision letter
When you submit the spectrum charges to WPC via the Government of India’s Bharat Kosh portal, they (WPC) will issue you a Decision Letter (Frequency Allotment Letter), also known as a LOI for the frequency.
- Online Application for the SACFA clearance
After receiving the WPC LOI or Decision letter, the applicant must submit an online application to the Ministry of Telecommunication in the prescribed format for SACFA clearance for your proposal to start your community radio station. After you submit hard copies of your application to WPC, they will issue you a SACFA Clearance letter. The WPC Application Fee for SACFA is Rs.1000/-, payable through the Bharatkosh Portal.
- The GOPA Agreement
The final license agreement is known as GOPA—the GRANT OF PERMISSION AGREEMENT, and it must be understood that it is sanctioned by the Deputy Director, MIB. The agreement is made between the grantor and the permit holder. The grantor is the President of India, acting Deputy Director (CRS), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi.
To start or create, broadcast, and operate a Community radio station, the permit holder must apply under the Policy Guidelines for Setting Up Community Radio Stations in India. You can download a PDF copy of the policy guidelines here.
The applicant must submit the required documents in order to apply for the GOPA Agreement and begin broadcasting on a community radio station (India). Along with the GOPA agreement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting must receive a bank guarantee in the amount of Rs. 25000/-for a period of five years.
- The Final Step-Getting the Wireless Operating License
This is the last step in the licensing process for your community radio station (CRS). Following this procedure, you can immediately begin broadcasting your community radio station on the assigned frequency. CRS frequencies include 90.8 FM, 90.4 FM, 91.2 FM, and so on.
Before applying for a Wireless Operating License or filling out this specific application form, you must select the name of the dealer or OEM for your transmission equipment purchase. You must submit the transmission equipment invoice as well as the equipment provider’s Dealer Possession License (also known as DPL Holder). WPC will issue you a Wireless Operating License after you submit the necessary documents for the application for the wireless operating license for the proposed community radio station.
As a result, you can finally launch your community radio station in India.
Policy Guidelines in Setting up a Community Radio Station (CRS)- India
The detailed guide with policies and guidelines specified by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for setting up and broadcasting a community radio station in India is provided below. All of the points are the result of an in-depth examination of the policy guidelines available on the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s website.
Download Links of all Applications & Forms for Starting a Community Radio Station in India
- Community Radio Application Form
- Applicants who wish to Apply for SACFA download the copy Here.
- Applicants who wish to apply for the GOPA can Download the application in PDF Here.
- Necessary (CRS) Community Radio Station Application Forms from the MIB website- Here
Detailed Policy Guidelines for Setting up Community Radio Stations in India
- Initially, permission is granted on a non-exclusive basis for a period of five (5) years to establish, maintain, and operate a community radio station in India. The Permission is non-transferable. The Permission Holder shall not, either directly or indirectly, assign or transfer its rights to any other party. Any violation will almost certainly result in the license being revoked.
- The Permission holder must keep the bank guarantee in favor of the Grantor valid for a sum of Rs.25,000/-. The Permission holder is not eligible for more than one Permission to operate a Community Radio Station in India in one or more locations. However, Central/State Universities with more than one campus, including autonomous bodies and Agricultural Universities established under them, may be allowed to operate CRS at more than one location, provided that the distance between two CR Stations established by the same organization is not less than 25 kilometers.
- The permit holder’s CRS should be designed to serve a specific and well-defined local community.
- The broadcaster must ensure that the members of the community that the CRS seeks to serve are adequately represented in the CRS’s ownership and management structure at all times during the validity of the permission..
- The GOPA shall be renewed for a period of five (5) years at a time. The first extension will be granted based on an application and verification of compliance with the permission’s terms and conditions. The application for extension must be submitted in the fourth year of operation.
- The continuous operation of a Community Radio Station in India by the permit holder for ten (10) years will be treated as a ground for the second extension, i.e., beyond ten (10) years. CRS should apply for an extension of permission one year before the expiration of the current permission period.
Broadcasting of the Content & Regulations
The permission bearer must follow the following principles when broadcasting programs over the CRS:
- The programs should be of quick community benefit. Development, agricultural, health, educational, environmental, social welfare, community development, and cultural programs should be prioritized. The programming should reflect the special interests and needs of the audience. the needs of the local community.
- At least half of the content (50%) must be created with the help of the local community, for which the station was created.
iii) Programs should preferably be in the local language and dialect (s).
- The permit holder is required to follow the provisions of the All-India Radio Programme and Advertising Code.
- The applicant, with permission, shall not broadcast any news or current affairs-related or otherwise political programs. Community radio stations in India, on the other hand, can broadcast news and current affairs content exclusively sourced from All India Radio (AIR) in its original form or translated into the local language/dialect. AIR will provide its news to CRS at no cost. It will be the CRS permission holder’s responsibility to ensure that the news is not distorted or edited during translation..
- Any Information about sports events does not include live coverage.
- Live commentary of local sporting events, on the other hand, may be permitted.
- Traffic and weather information
- Local cultural events and festivals are covered in detail.
- Exams, results, admissions, and career counseling are all covered.
- Employment opportunities are available to be broadcasted.
- Community (Public) announcements from the local administration about civic amenities such as electricity, water supply, natural disasters, health alerts, and so on.
- Similar other categories are not permitted at this time but may be explicitly permitted in the future by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- The permit holder of a community radio station in India must take care to avoid the following religious programs:
- Infringes on good taste or decency;
- Criticism with regard to friendly countries;
- Activities that Include attacks on religions or communities, as well as images or words that are derogatory to religious groups or that promote or result in the promotion of communal discontent or disharmony;
- Anything containing obscene, defamatory, intentional, false, and suggestive innuendos and half-truths;
- Is likely to provoke or encourage violence, or contains anything that is contrary to the maintenance of law and order, or promotes anti-national attitudes;
- Contains anything amounting to contempt of court; contains anything threatening the nation’s integrity;
- Containing insults to the President/Vice President’s and the Judiciary’s dignity;
- criticizes, disparages, or defames any individual or particular groups, segments of the community’s public, public, and moral life;
- Promotes superstition or blind faith;
- Women are slandered.;
- It demeans children.
- May present/depict/suggest as favorable the use of drugs such as alcohol, narcotics, and tobacco, or may stereotype, incite, vilify, or perpetuate hatred against, or attempt to demean, any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, or physical or mental disability.
- a. Exploitation of religious susceptibilities; and
- b. Offending the religious views and beliefs of those who belong to a specific religion or religious denomination.
- Ethics in Program Broadcasting- The permit holder must ensure that nothing is included in the program.
- the programs broadcast which:
Transmitter Power and Range
The Permission holder shall ensure that the transmission equipment including the antenna conforms to the following technical parameters: –
Power of transmitter: ERP up to 100 Watts
ii) Height of antenna above ground: Up to 30 meters. However, the minimum height of the Antenna above ground should be at least 15 meters to prevent the possibility of biological hazards of RF radiation.
iii) Antenna location has to be within the geographical area of the community sought to be served)
Funding & Sustenance
- The community radio station license in India will be eligible to seek funding from multilateral aid agencies after obtaining FCRA clearance under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976.
- Transmission of sponsored programs shall not be permitted except for programs sponsored by Central & State Governments and other organizations to broadcast public interest information. Besides, limited advertising and announcements relating to local events, local businesses and services, and employment opportunities shall be allowed. The maximum duration of such limited advertising will be restricted to 7 (Seven) minutes per hour of broadcast.
- Revenue generated from the transmission of sponsored programs, advertisements, and announcements as per para (7.2) above, shall be utilized only for the operational expenses and capital expenditure of the Community Radio Station. After meeting the full financial needs of the Community Radio
- Station, surplus funds may, with the prior written permission of the Grantor, be plowed into the primary activity of the organization i.e. for education in the case of educational institutions and for furthering the primary objectives for which the NGO concerned was established.
- The Permission holder shall be required to submit their audited annual accounts to the Grantor in respect of the organization/division running the Community Radio Station. The accounts shall clearly show the income and expenditure incurred and the Assets and Liabilities in respect of the Community Radio Station. The annual audited accounts/balance sheets for each Financial Year will be submitted within one month of their finalization but not later than 30th September of the following Financial Year.
- The Grantor (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, India) shall have the right to get the accounts of the CRS audited by CAG or any other professional auditors at their discretion. In case of difference, the views of the government-appointed auditors, subject to the opportunity of hearing to the Permission Holder, shall prevail.
Monitoring and Public complaints:
- The Permission holder at its own cost shall,
- preserve the recordings of broadcast material for a period of three months from the date of broadcast and produce the same to the Grantor or its authorized representative, as and when required, and
- on demand by the Grantor, provide the necessary equipment, services and
- facilities at designated place (s) for continuous monitoring of the broadcasting service by or under the supervision of the Grantor.
- The Permission holder shall submit such information concerning its broadcast as may be required by the Grantor from time to time.
- The Permission Holder shall furnish any such information at periodic intervals as may be required by the Grantor concerning Programme Content and Quality, Technical Parameters, etc. relating to the broadcast in the format as may be prescribed by the Grantor from time to time.
- The Grantor shall make special arrangements for monitoring and enforcement of the ceiling on advertisements, particularly in those areas where private FM radio stations have been granted licenses and the permit holder shall extend full cooperation.
Inspection in the Community Radio Station Broadcasting Premises
- The Grantor or its authorized representative shall have the right to inspect the broadcasting facilities. The Grantor shall, in particular, but not limited to, have the right to access the Community radio station infrastructure and records. No prior permission/intimation shall be required to exercise the right
- of the Grantor to carry out the inspection. The permit holder will, if required by the Grantor or its authorized representative, provide necessary facilities for continuous monitoring of any particular aspect of the permit holder’s activities and operations.
- The Grantor will ordinarily inspect reasonable notice except in circumstances where giving such a notice will defeat the very purpose of the inspection.
- Force Majeure- If at any time, during the continuance of this Permission, the performance of any obligation either in whole or in part by any party is prevented or delayed, because of war, hostility, acts of the enemy, civil commotion, sabotage, fire, flood, the act of State, explosion, epidemic, quarantine restriction, natural calamities, general strikes materially affecting the performance of any obligations of the affected party, or act of God (all or any of these hereinafter referred to as “Force Majeure Event”, neither party shall, because of such Force Majeure event be entitled to terminate this Permission, nor shall either party have any claim for damages against the other, in respect of such nonperformance or delay in performance, provided a notice of such happenings of any such Force Majeure Event is given by the affected party to the unaffected party within 30 days from the date of occurrence thereof.
National security and other conditions
- The Grantor reserves the right to take over the entire services and networks of the Permission holder or revoke/terminate/suspend the Permission in the interest of national security or the event of national emergency/ war or low-intensity conflict or under a similar type of situation.
- All the foreign personnel likely to be deployed by way of appointment, contract, consultancy, etc. by the Permission Holder for installation, maintenance, and operation of the Permission Holder’s services shall be required to obtain prior security clearance from the Government of India.
- Notwithstanding anything contained anywhere else in the Grant of Permission Agreement, the Grantor shall have the power to direct the permit holder to broadcast any special message as may be considered desirable to meet any contingency arising out of natural emergency, public interest, or natural disaster and the like, and the Permission holder shall be obliged to comply with such directions.
- The permission is subject to the permit holder’s remaining security cleared throughout the currency of permission. In case the security clearance has been withdrawn the permission granted under this agreement is liable to be terminated forthwith.
- In the event of the security clearance of any of the persons associated with the permit holder or foreign personnel is withdrawn for any reasons whatsoever, the permit holder will ensure that the concerned person resigns or his services terminated forthwith after receiving such directives from the Grantor, failing which the permission granted shall be liable to be terminated.
Power to modify the terms and conditions.
The Grantor reserves the right to modify, at any time, the terms and conditions if it is necessary to do so, in the public interest or for the proper conduct of broadcasting or security considerations. This Agreement will be subject to such other conditions as may be determined by the Grantor.
Termination of Permission- Consequences of non-operationalization
- The permit holder shall operationalize the radio station within three months of the signing of the agreement failing which the permission granted may be revoked after affording an opportunity of being heard. The permit holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the Grantor if the Permission holder fails to commission the radio station within the stipulated
- Shutting down operations- In case of the Permission holder shutting down broadcasting activity for
more than 3 months after commencement of operation, its Permission is liable to be canceled and the frequency allotted to the next eligible applicant.
- Transfer of permission- In case of transfer of permission in violation of clause 4.1, the permission is
liable to be terminated and neither the permission holder nor the transferee will be eligible to apply directly or indirectly for fresh permission in the future for a period of five years. Besides, the permit holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the Grantor.
- Consequences of misuse and non-compliance with directives: In the event of a Permission Holder using or letting its facilities being used for transmitting any unauthorized content, messages, or communication or failing to comply with the directions, the permission granted shall be revoked and the Permission holder shall be disqualified to hold any such permission in future for a period of five years, apart from liability for punishment under other applicable laws. The Permission holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the government in such cases.
- Termination for Non-eligibility- The Government may, at any time, terminate this Agreement and the Permission, without compensation to the Permission Holder in case the company fails to meet the eligibility criteria as laid down in the Guidelines at any time during the currency of permission or its security clearance is withdrawn, provided that such termination shall not prejudice or affect any right of action which has accrued or will accrue thereafter to the Grantor. Besides, the permit holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the Grantor.
- Failure to preserve recordings- In the event of non-compliance the permission granted may be revoked. Besides, the permit holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the Grantor.
- Violation in other cases- In case, there is any violation of conditions cited by the Permission holder, the Grantor may suo motto or based on the complaint(s) take cognizance and place the matter before the Interministerial Committees on Programme and Advertising Codes for recommending appropriate penalties. On the recommendation of the Committee, a decision to impose penalties shall be taken. Besides, the permit holder shall also forfeit the bank guarantee to the Grantor.
14.7.2 In case of non-compliance / violation of any other terms and conditions the penalty shall comprise of:
i) Temporary suspension of Permission for operating the Community Radio Station for a period of up to one month in the case of the first violation
ii) Temporary suspension of Permission for operating the Community Radio Station for a period of up to three months in the case of the second violation depending on the gravity of the violation.
iii) Revocation of the Permission for any subsequent violation. Besides, the Permission Holder and its principal members shall be liable for appropriate actions under IPC, CrPC, and other applicable laws.
WPC Wing’s Permission for Broadcasting:
Before operating the CRS a separate specific license i.e. Wireless Operational License shall be obtained by the Permission Holder from the WPC Wing of Ministry of Communications & IT, permitting utilization of appropriate frequencies/band for the establishment and operation of concerned wireless component of CRS under usual terms and conditions of such license.
For this purpose, an application has to be made to the Wireless Advisor to the Government of India, WPC Wing, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & IT in the prescribed application form.
License fee/royalty as prescribed by WPC from time to time, have to be paid by the Permission holder towards grant of License for the usage of the frequency spectrum.
The permission holder should not cause harmful interference to other unauthorized users of the radio spectrum. WPC Wing will have the sole discretion to take practicable and necessary steps for the elimination of harmful interference, if any, to other licensed users.
The Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing, Ministry of Communications & IIT shall have the right to inspect from time to time the installation from technical angles to check conformity with WOL conditions.
Different from public service and commercial media, a community radio station (CRS) is significant in radio transmission. This industry has shown strong growth in India during the past few years. This platform offers a clear benefit for concentrating on regional issues relating to agriculture, education, health, and other local issues. Additionally, the community radio sector provides marginalized groups with a potent platform to express their issues.
In addition, individuals can immediately relate to the broadcast because it is in their own languages and dialects. Local opinions on topics affecting their life can be heard on this platform.
Community radio has the potential to strengthen people’s participation in development programs. In a country like India, where every state has its own language and distinctive cultural identity. The CRSs are also a repository of local folk music and cultural heritage. Many CRSs broadcast, record, and preserve local songs for posterity and give local artists a platform to showcase their talent to the community. The unique position of a Community Radio Station as an instrument of positive social change makes it an ideal tool for community empowerment.
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The radio was launched in 1923 with a network of 3 radio stations broadcasting in 3 cities-Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), Calcutta, and Chennai (formerly called Madras). The 1st program that India heard on any radio was in 1923 by All India Radio (Akashvani)—the World’s 2nd largest network of radio stations.
1. The 1st broadcast was made on July 23, 1927, from Bombay or Mumbai.
2. The 2nd Radio station started its broadcast on 26 August 1927 from Calcutta.
3. After independence 6 radio stations were launched in Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Tiruchirapalli, and Lucknow.
4. Chennai heard it broadcast on FM Radio on 23 July 1977.