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George(s) Lessard on Wed, 24 Oct 2001 19:24:54 +0200 (CEST)

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------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Wed, 24 Oct 2001 00:09:16 +0530 (IST)
From:           	Frederick Noronha <fred {AT} bytesforall.org>

BANGALORE (South India), Oct 4: It's a case of being all dressed-up and
having nowhere to go. Radio-enthusiasts in India, who have been waiting long to
get legal permissions to set up community radio stations, have finally decided
to launch their studios even if they can't get them on the air.

Two such initiatives were launched within a fortnight in South India, one in 
the southern province of Karnataka and the other is to be shortly inaugurated 
in the neighbouring province of Andhra Pradesh.  

After a long wait for the Indian federal government to issue it licences,
the non-profit community organisation called VOICES inaugurated its
community radio production centre 'Namma Dhwani' (Our Voice) at Budikote in
Kolar district of South India's province of Karnataka on September 21. 

"This is a first for Karnataka. The project is a joint effort by VOICES and
MYRADA (another non-profit in the field of development) and is supported by
UNESCO," according to VOICES director Ashish Sen.

The studio has an analog mixer, portable recorders -- to enable field
recordings -- and also a recording room and an instrument room. Training in
using this has been provided to the community over the last year.

UNESCO programme officer Ashok Sharma, Indira Gandhi National Open University 
(IGNOU) educational media production centre director Dr Sreedhar, All India 
Radio station director Krishnamurthy, and MYRADA chairperson M.A.S. Rajan were 
present for the launch.  

Prominent South Indian newspaper 'Deccan Herald' commented: "It may not have 
the sophistication of a FM station, but it is the most effective tool for rural 
communication. Karnataka's first Community Radio Production Centre 'Namma 
Dhwani' (Our Voice) was inaugurated."  

It was pointed out that the community would decide what programmes it will
make. Local community members have been undergoing workshops and some of the
programmes made during the workshop include one on organic-farming, and another
on case studies of the disabled.

A license is required to set up community radio and the matter is still
under discussion in the present Media Convergence Bill, currently before the
federal Parliament. 

Programmes created at this studio therefore are not expected to be 'broadcast' 
but 'narrow-cast' -- by people playing back to each other on a tape recorder 
programmes that they make in the field.  

The aim is to prepare for the advent of community radio -- to teach them 
scripting, programme-making, recording and other aspects.  

News reports quoted AIR Station Director Krishnamurthy, who inaugurated
'Namma Dhwani', said that community radio can address the problems at a much
local level because the responsibility of making programmes is with the
community itself. 

Since the community radio is not legitimized yet, the programmes produced by 
the communities are expected to perhaps be broadcast over the state-supported 
network of the All India Radio.  

UNESCO representative to India Prof. M Tawkif commented that experience had 
shown that community-radio was a tool for people's participation in the 
development process. Such tools, when effectively used, held enormous 

Broadcaster M.Abdul Rehman Pasha, who formerly worked with the AIR network and 
is now part of an organisation called 'Multimedia' in Bangalore, welcomed the 

He commented: "While waiting for the mercy of the democratic governments to 
grant the freedom of speech to the rural masses over the electromagnetic waves, 
preparing them for the first stem is crucial.... All the lovers of CR should 
take up the work of 'preparing the people for the final flight (of getting 
legal sanction for community radio in the world's most populous democracy)'.  

Pasha noted that, some times back, an organization called, BIRD-K has an
audio studio set up in its office at Tiptur, Tumkur  in the state of
Karnataka itself. 

"They are producing community based audio programs and are narrow-casting them 
among the various self-help groups under their various project. They have even 
called it as their 'audio magazine' entitled 'Siri Samriddhi'," he added.  

 From Andhra Pradesh, in the eastern region of South India, P.V Satheesh of the 
non-profit organisation called the Deccan Development Society (DDS) announced 
plans to launch its Community Media Centre on October 15, International Rural 
Women's Day.  

Said Satheesh, who himself is a former veteran of the Indian state-run
Doordarshan network: "On this day we are dedicating a new facility we have
constructed. The facility has three edit suites, one dubbing booth and one
storage space alongside one rehearsal/discussion room and one computer

Equipment installed in the media centre consists of eight video cameras
[five of them mini DV], five mini DV edit recorders [two GVD 900 and three
GVD 300], one computer edit unit, one DH-1000 edit recorder and one
eight-track audio mixer.

"With this facility the rural women who will own the Centre can comfortable
carry out all the shoots, edits, dubs and mixing," he added.

On the same day, the DDS plans to also launch our Community Media Trust. It 
will have 70% participation and ownership by the rural women with whom the 
society works, almost all of them coming from socially and economically 
deprived caste groups.  

"A majority of them are non-literate. Yet, this initiative is to further the 
philosophy of the DDS that digital divide need not affect the non-literate 
people and with media tools they can certainly make their voices heard by the 
external world," said Satheesh.  

It is planned that the Community Media Trust will eventually be the complete
owner and manager of all the video and audio equipments, buildings which have
been at the moment owned by the Deccan Development Society.

Four years ago, the Deccan Development Society started its own Community FM
Radio Centre with a recording studio, control room, two transmitters, one
transmitting tower and all other related facilities to allow the full
functioning of a radio station. 

"But since then it is languishing for want of a licence from the Government of
India which strangely, on paper, represents the Sovereign People's Republic of
India but has more faith in Rupert Murdochs rather than its own people when it
hands over broadcast licences. In this Kafkaesque situation we must continue to
operate and create our own small spaces for the real communities of the
country," complained an angry Satheesh. 

CONTACTS: Voices <voices {AT} blr.vsnl.net.in> 
Deccan Development Society <ddshyd {AT} hd1.vsnl.net.in>

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