New Delhi, Dec. 18: The Union Cabinet today decided to allow universities and boarding schools to operate their own FM radio stations in a bid to popularise community broadcasting.
The experiment, if successful, will eventually extend to the villages, where community radio can play an important role in spreading literacy and raising awareness on health.
Initially, a select list of institutions will be allowed to start their own broadcasting, including the Indian Institutes of Management, the Indian Institutes of Technology, residential and Sarvoday schools, and universities.
Sushma Swaraj told reporters after a Cabinet meeting that the government was willing to forego the licence fee but a spectrum fee, to be finalised by the wireless planning and coordination committee, had to be paid. Community FM channels would have to confirm to the programmes code of the All India Radio and would initially involve an investment of between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 8 lakh, depending on their reach.
These radio stations could be heard within a radius of 5 kilometres and would not be allowed to broadcast news and current affairs, she said.
Local language programming would help tap fresh talent, Swaraj said, adding that they could eventually become independent producers or radio anchors.