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Community Radio Stations and SVEEP

Topics Covered:

  1. Transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Community Radio Stations and SVEEP


What to study?

  • For Prelims: What are Community radio stations and what is SVEEP.
  • For Mains: Significance of community radio stations and challenges faced by them, significance of SVEEP.


Context: In a first of its kind initiative, the Election Commission of India has reached out to over 150 Community Radio stations from across the country to help educate and inform the voters.


What is community radio?

Community radio is a type of radio service that caters to the interests of a certain area, broadcasting content that is popular to a local audience.

  • Community radio is confined to a small geographical area. It serves a community which uses common resources for livelihood, has common development issues and concerns, which are relatively localized, nevertheless connected to national and regional development goals.
  • Today, there are more than 180 community radio stations across India, broadcasting in languages like Bundelkhandi, Garhwali, Awadhi and Santhali — tongues that typically find little or no space on television.


Challenges to the Community Radio:

  • Lack of journalistic and technical skills and thus a consistent demand for training.
  • Community Radio derives its strength and popularity from community participation. In practise participation is harder than it seems, because it is labour intensive, requires the right attitude, skills and mobile equipment.
  • Without proper management skills, as well as some knowledge of financial management and income generation, it is very hard for Community Radio to survive without donor funding.
  • Community Radio is by definition relatively small and often situated in locations where basic services, like a constant supply of electricity, are lacking. Due to these conditions equipment suffers and needs to be vigorously maintained and/or regularly replaced.
  • Absence of a clear regulatory framework in which Community Radio operates.


Eligibility to apply for a Community Radio Station:

As per the 2006 policy of the Government, an organisation desirous of operating a Community Radio Station (CRS) must be able to satisfy and adhere to the following principles:

  • It should be explicitly constituted as a ‘non-profit’ organisation and should have a proven record of at least three years of service to the local community.
  • The Community Radio Station should serve a specific well-defined local community.
  • The ownership and management structure should be such that it reflects the community which it serves.
  • It should only broadcast programmes that cater to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community.
  • The organization must be a Legal Entitye. it should be registered (under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose).


Regarding the content, the two important provisions made are as follows:

  • At least 50% of content shall be generated with the participation of the local community, for which the station has been set up.
  • Programmes should preferably be in the local language and dialect(s).

The CRS license thus given by the government entitled them to operate a 100-watt (Effective Radiated Power) radio station, with a coverage area of approximately a 12-km radius. A maximum antenna height of 30 meters is allowed.


What is Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)?

SVEEP is a programme of multi interventions through different modes and media designed to educate citizens, electors and voters about the electoral process in order to increase their awareness and participation in the electoral processes.

SVEEP is designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.