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ANDHRA PRADESH  REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON
COMMUNITY RADIO

11-13 October, 2007
Pastapur, Medak Dt, AP

Organised by
Deccan Development Society In collaboration with

Community Radio Forum
&
The United Nations

A REPORT


Introduction

A three-day residential “Andhra Pradesh Regional Workshop on Community Radio” was held for civil society groups from October 11-13, 2007. The workshop was hosted, organised and facilitated by the Deccan Development Society (DDS) in association with Community Radio Forum, India and carried out with assistance from UNESCO.

At the conclusion of the workshop, participants decided to form the Andhra Pradesh Rural Community Radio Forum to network and share capacities and experiences within the State.

 

This report includes the following sections:

  1. Expected Outcomes of Workshop
  2. Participants: NGOs and Civil Society Groups
  3. Resource Persons for Facilitating Workshop Sessions
  4. An Overview of Sessions
  5. Issues that came up for Discussions in Different Sessions
  6. Feedback about Workshop
  7. Annexure:
    i)   Workshop Agenda
    ii)  List of all Participants with Contact Details
    iii)  List of Documents/Presentations included in Participant’s Folders

Expected Outcomes of the Workshop

The workshop aimed at introducing Community Radio (CR) as a meaningful tool for social change to NGOs working in Andhra Pradesh. It sought to share with the participating organisations the recently announced CR Policy, technical information as well as details of the application process for initiating the process of establishing CR stations in their region, which would be community-owned and managed, and run on a not-for-profit basis.

The workshop specifically focussed on:

  1. Facilitating an understanding of the concept and philosophy of CR in the Indian context
  2. Generating discussion on the CR Policy by elucidating its Scope and Limitations
  3. Explaining step-by step, the CR license Application Form
  4. Creating Awareness about the stages and process of setting up a Community Radio Stations
  5. Clarifying the role of NGOs, CRF, Government and most importantly the Community at every stage
  6. Providing an overview of the available/feasible technical options for setting up CR Station
  7. Demystifying technology through hands-on experience of operating radio at the DDS Community Radio Centre at Machnoor village
  8. Distributing Material generated on different aspects or CR

Participants: NGOs and Civil Society Groups

NGOs: 22

1. ANKITA, Nalgonda
2. ANTHRA, Hyderabad
3. BIRDS, Kurnool
4. Byrraju Foundation, East Godavari
5. Community Radio Station, Machnoor, Medak
6. Deccan Development Society, Pastapur, Medak
7. LAYA, East Godavari
8. Modern Architects for Comprehensive Rural Development (MACORD), Hyderabad
9. Modern Architects for Rural India (MARI), Warangal
10. Nava Bharath Rural Development Society(NRDS), Anantapur
11. Navodayam, Chittoor
12. PEACE, Nalgonda
13. PILUPU, Nalgonda
14. Pragathi Seva Samithi (PSS, Warangal
15. READS, Medak
16. SABALA, Visakhapatnam
17. SAHANIVASA, Chittoor
18. SAMATA, Visakhapatnam
19. Sarada Vally Development Samithi, Vizag
20. Tribal Development Advisory Service Society (TDASS),Medak
21. UNICEF, Raichur District Coordinator
22. YAKSHI, Hyderabad

Resource Persons for Facilitating Workshop Sessions

Mr. P V Satheesh, Director DDS; General Narsamma and Algole Narsamma, both managers of Sangam FM (DDS CR); Prof. Vinod Pavarala, Vasuki Belavadi and Dr. Kanchan K. Malik from the University of Hyderabad.

 

An Overview of Sessions

Day I:

The workshop began with singing of the Sangam FM title song by the DDS community radio women. After the 30 participants of the workshop and the resource persons introduced themselves, Kanchan K Malik explained the concept of CR and provided an overview of CR scenario in India.

The workshop began with singing of the Sangam FM title song by the DDS community radio women. After the 30 participants of the workshop and the resource persons introduced themselves, Kanchan K Malik explained the concept of CR and provided an overview of CR scenario in India.

 


Her presentation emphasized that the philosophy behind community radio is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless and generally as a tool for social change. Distinguishing it from the other two forms of broadcasting, that is, the public and the commercial, she said that community broadcasting is seen as having three key aspects: non-profit making, community ownership and control, and community participation. Her presentation also traced the journey of the community radio movement in India.

This was followed by the release of book on community radio by Vinod Pavarala & Kanchan K. Malik titled Other Voices: The Struggle for Community Radio in India. The book documents the struggle of civil society organizations, media academics and activists for forging a third sector of community broadcasting in India. The book is based on fieldwork done in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat and Jharkhand.

In the next session, P V Satheesh and Vinod Pavarala elaborated further on the concept and philosophy of CR.

P V Satheesh spoke about the focus areas/activities of DDS and their participatory approach to social change. DDS believes that the access and control of media technologies should be in the hands of the marginalised communities particularly women. It was important to note that the control of media technologies in the hands of the marginalized communities was preceded by the community's control over their food, health and natural resources, he added. His presentation emphasized the need for democratization of media and that the establishment of the Community Media Trust was a step in this direction.

Vinod Pavarala pointed out that debate on CR among civil society and media activist groups started with the 1995 SC judgment declaring airwaves as public property. He talked at length about how CR can help in reviving the developmental prowess of media and promote meaningful content which is locally relevant. He introduced the Community Radio Forum of India and spoke about its four thrust areas – CR awareness, helpdesk for policy, policy advocacy and technology options.

This was followed by the screening of the film on DDS community radio: “A Radio of Their Own” after which Vinod Pavarala provided an overview of the recently announced CR policy and explained the guidelines in detail. In the post-lunch session, Vinod Pavarala provided a step-by-step guidance to the participants for  filling up the application form for a CR license.

The participants of the workshop then visited the DDS CR station in Machnoor and interacted with the Production/ Management Team of the station including General Narsamma and Algole Narsamma.

Day II:

The forenoon session of the workshop focussed on the logistics of setting up the CR station. Vasuki Belavadi, PV Satheesh and Kanchan K. Malik discussed different aspects to the process of setting up a CR station (such as needs assessment, equipment, space, funds, management and capacity sharing) and the available technology options.

In his presentation, Vasuki Belavadi laid out the various technology options available in the market to set up a CR. There were a number of analog and digital options for field and studio-based productions. He said the CR equipment could be seen in terms of production, post-production and transmission. Analog technologies were slowly on their way out. On the other hand digital technologies facilitated easy recording, editing and storage of programmes but would require more time for the communities to get used to. However, the community’s adoption to technologies and their affordability could be the guiding factors in deciding the right option. Vasuki and PV Satheesh also cleared a number of doubts with regard to coverage of transmitters and phasing out of equipment.

On the location of the CR, Vasuki and Satheesh pointed out that one would have to strike a balance between access to the radio station and reach in terms of the FM signal.

An ideal way, perhaps, would be to start small and then slowly add equipment as CR volunteers got used to programming and production. Even if one wanted to upgrade equipment, there was always the option of working with both analog and digital technologies. Only recording and editing equipment would perhaps require upgradation, most of the other equipment in the production chain remaining the same.

On the issue of scaling up the CR in terms of reach since multi-lateral donor agencies are keen on this issue (in relation to the fact that the existing policy does not allow more than one CR per applicant), a sensitisation workshop for donor agencies may be planned.

Satheesh emphasised that CR would be able to fulfil its objectives and mission only if a) the community first has a genuine participation mechanism in place and b) the need is felt for using technology for furthering the process of participatory development and building of indigenous knowledge systems. Capacity enhancing should be the first step of the enabling mechanism for CR, rather than the last step after the licence comes.

Satheesh analysed critically the different sources from which one could obtain funding and the possible consequences related to each. General and Algole explained some of the ways in which production of radio programmes could be sustained over a period of time. Kanchan talked of the different models of management and ownership of CR linking them up with the sources of funding for setting up the station and for covering the recurring costs.

Satheesh suggested several ways of ensuring community participation and the indispensability of community ownership and management in all functions of the CR.

Kanchan made a presentation about the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) experience with Community Radio and talked about the programmes produced by the community radio reporters of the “Ujjas” radio of the media unit of KMVS.

Post lunch, the participants visited the DDS radio setup in Machnoor again and familiarised themselves with the various radio equipment and their basic usage. They also visited the Community Media Trust (CMT) and DDS headquarters and interacted with the CMT members.

Day III:

Day III started with a session with General Narsamma on basic digital editing techniques. This was followed by a detailed feedback session (Summary appended below).

Issues that came up for Discussions in different Sessions

All the sessions of the workshop were open-ended in their approach. The participants felt free to question, comment, express doubts, and come up with queries related to the concept and practice of community radio in the context of their own specific experience of community development related work.  The resource persons handled most of these and at the same time the participants also freely exchanged ideas/apprehensions/comprehension about the CR policy and the application process among themselves.

Presented below are some such questions/queries/comments and ideas and a sample of the responses offered:

  1. There are so many radio channels and we also have cable TV.  Why do we need to set up our ‘own’ radio?

    [Response: Channels not available in remote/distant parts; Signal; affordability; Ownership of media by a few; Institutionalised; Voice to the marginalised]
  2. Why there was objection to CR even after the SC judgment and CR policy?

  3. The realm of operation of the NGO is big: how would it be possible to cover the entire area with CR?

  4. How is the ERP factor different for areas with special terrains – (Provided range is less)? [250 Watts ERP; Vinod Pavarala suggested that Tribal Development Ministry could intervene and get special provisions for tribal areas ].

  5. Some NGOs have presence in more than one district. How can they apply for more than one licence?

    [Apply where the community development work is in consonance with the philosophy of CR - need for community radio].

  6. The area in which we work is the hub of naxalite activity.   Will that count against us?

    [Your own track record will matter.]

  7. What would be the facilitating role of CRF? Is it only a campaign organization?

    [Role as Helpdesk and for policy advocacy ]

  8. Programme content: for how much duration during one day?

  9. The policy seems limiting in certain sense: can there be further change in policy to make it more facilitating in terms of coverage and content?
     
    [Let us create success stories under the given provisions and then demand more]

  10. Can two organizations apply for licence in the same geographical area or not?

  11. What training inputs required for capacity building? How do we get trained?

    [Local resources like AIR: understanding format and technical training: actual decision making rest in the hands of the community. Move from capacity building to capacity sharing]

  12. Why would they want to listen to community radio?

    [PVS responded Inadequacies of AIR: Information imperialism removed. Information coming from rather than to communities]

  13. What technology should we adopt? If they adopt tape technology first – Would upgradation to Digital technology make earlier technology redundant?

    [Vasuki explained the wide array of equipment available in the market and the pricing options of the CRS. Factors such as adaptability of the community to the various technologies; Affordability could be the guiding factors in the choice of equipment: What is the budget that you have? Even in Digital technology: Core equipment could remain the same. Technology/programme need not have finesse: need not be very sophisticated.]

  14. Location of station and antenna (cable length)?

    [Accessible to communities]

  15. Possibilities for funding: establishment and recurring.

    [Multilateral agencies; Sources of Sustenance: different; special ITDC projects funds to be diverted here. Gram Panchayat, Community funds].

  16. Scale up/ Replication?

    [Need to sensitize donor agencies: workshop should be held for them. Economies of scale do not apply here.]

  17. Government projects; do we take them and project them on CR?

    [CR could debate on them. The lack of knowledge of local conditions will probably get exposed. Not deviate from participatory philosophy.]

  18. Insurance: Equipment? [Yes, required]

  19. Is there a possibility of frequency sharing?

These are some of the questions that the participants asked members of the Community Media Trust (CMT) during discussions about their operation and management techniques:

  1. Enrolment: who are the people on CMT?
  2. Did DDS impose or you set it up?
  3. Broadcast/Narrowcast?
  4. 600 hours of programme: what do you do with that?
  5. What do you record and who decided
  6. Supervising body?
  7. Budget: who decides?
  8. Leadership?
  9. How does your work affect domestic life?
  10. Mission: Achieved it or not? [People’s satellite]
  11. Wedding videos: why not?
  12. Impact on Community?
  13. Subjects on which programmes made/ recordings done? Medicinal plants/Subsidy/ Farmer Suicide/Sugarcane/Fertilizers.
  14. When did they realize that technology can empower

P V Satheesh spoke about: Global village to villaged Globe; Community Media as an alternative to Literacy; Capacity Sharing.

Feedback about Workshop (DAY III)

Given below are some of the responses given by the participants during the final feedback session: 

  1. Theoretically the scope of community media/radio has been explained very convincingly. Now we need to go back to our community and explore the practical possibility. There are doubts in our mind but there is hope when we see that in DDS the work is being done by non-literates.
  2. (Nalgonda District) – We work with tribal and Dalit women. Enthusiastic about the possibility of CR and plan to bring community members to DDS for training.
  3. Byrraju Foundation: This training experience is very different from the training at Dahanu (Maharashtra). The scope of CR explained through case studies has given firm ground to the belief that CR can empower the community.
  4. Ankita (East Godavari District) – They operate in naxalite area and hence are apprehensive that they will not be able to procure a licence. Will seek advice from DDS on application procedure and how to go ahead.
  5. Navodaya – They have a newsletter but is constrained by the lack of literacy among the community. Radio can be useful in overcoming that barrier.
  6. Navodaya 2 -  Workshop could have been longer.
  7. Mallika (Navodayam)- We felt we can also do it. We have not been able to take video to community. Got an idea about CR here. We will also try.
  8. Srinivas WGL (PSS) – Understood the significance of main-stream media Vs CR. Participants will try to convince the chief functionaries about applicability/benefit of CR. Feasibility studies required. Will require a lot of effort in convincing community about CR. Participants going back with conviction.
  9. Ravibabu (Birds, Kurnool) – Heard about CR for first time. We have decided to set up one, which is why I came here.
  10. LAYA (Vishakapattanam) – We want to set up CR. We will first narrowcast and then apply for licence. Please tell us who will provide training and conduct a feasibility study for us.
  11. Rambabu (Yakshi) – CR good tool to preserve culture
  12. Chinna (SAMATA) – I thought the workshop will be all about equipment. The concept of ‘Autonomy/Sovereignty’ emphasised in the workshop will remain in my memory.
  13. Manohar (APVVU, Chottor) – CR can be a powerful tool. CRF should facilitate.
  14. Shekhar (MARI) – Workshop provided exposure to equipment and concept of CR. Since mobiles these days have FM, we could explore that too.
  15. Digambar (Anthra, Medak) – No board, no chalk, no ‘teacher’, no hierarchy. All of us talked freely. Local language was used in all presentations and discussions. There was ‘workshop sovereignty’!

At the end of the feedback session decision taken to set up an e-group of the Andhra Pradesh Rural Community Radio Forum.

Before the feedback session on Day III, the participants, in a mood of camaraderie went to Bidar (20 kms) and visited the fort, the Narasimhaswamy temple and the Gurudwara.

Annexure:

  1. Workshop Agenda
  2. Workshop Participants