The first day of March, 2011 has marked a new beginning in the history of Gauhati University asDr. Sreedher Ramamurty, Director, Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia formally launched RADIO LUIT, the first Campus Radio of the North-East. Dr. Sreedher, a pioneer of Indian Community Radio movement, heads the Asian Mission of the Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada. Prof. Gautam Barua, Director, IIT, Guwahati and Prof. M. Taher, Retd. Professor & Head, Department of Geography, Gauhati University graced the occasion as the guests of honour. Prof. O. K. Medhi, Vice Chancellor, Gauhati University presided over the function. Faculty members, officers, employees, students of the Gauhati University and a large number of people including prominent citizens from the neighbouring areas attended the function.
Established at the premises of the Instituteof Distanceand Open Learning, GauhatiUniversity,RADIO LUIT has already begun its trial transmission at 90.8 FM on 18th January, 2011 after obtaining the license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. The Community Radio Station named after the mighty LUIT will endeavour to give voice to the hopes and aspirations of not only the Gauhati University Community but also the people living around the University.
Community Radio a Concept
Community Radio is anot-for profitradio service that provide a mechanism for facilitating individuals, groups, and communitiesto share their own stories, experiences, and in a media rich world, enable them to become active creators and contributors of media. In many parts of the world, community radio acts as a vehicle for the community and voluntary sector, civil society, agencies, NGOs & citizens to work in partnership to further community development as well as broadcasting aims.
In the UK, the idea of community-based services can be traced back to the concept for BBC local radio in the early 1960s which was followed by various land-based unlicensed pirate radio stations. In cities like London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham the pirate stations of the late 1970s and early 1980s were joined by the broadcasting specific to minority immigrant communities. Most minority immigrant stations focused purely on specific musical genres and were operated (theoretically at least) on a for-profit basis. Community radio services in the UK are operated on a not-for-profit basis with community ownership and control built in to their structures. Since 2005, some 200 such stations have been licensed by the UK broadcasting regulator Ofcom. Most of such stations broadcast on FM, typically at a radiated power level of approximately 25 Watts (per-plane), although there are a few that operate on AM (medium wave), particularly in more rural areas.
Growth of Community Radio in India
In India, the campaign to legitimise community radio began in the mid 1990s, soon after the Supreme Court of India ruled in its judgment of February 1995 that "airwaves are public property". Anna FM is India's first campus 'community' radio, launched on 1st February 2004, which is run by Education and Multimedia Research Centre (EMRC), and all programmes are produced by the students of Media Sciences at Anna University
On 16th November 2006, the Government of India notified new Community Radio Guidelines which permit NGOs and other civil society organizations to own and operate community radio stations. About 4,000 community radio licenses are on offer across India, according to government sources. By 30 November 2008, the ministry of Information & Broadcasting, government of India, had received 297 applications for community radio licenses, including 141 from NGOs and other civil society organizations, 105 from educational institutions and 51 for 'farm radio' stations to be run by the agricultural universities and agricultural extension centers ('Krishi Vigyan Kendras'). Of these, 107 community radio stations have been cleared for licensing through the issue of Letters of Intent. 13 Grant of Permission Agreements (GOPA) have been signed with license applicants under the new scheme.
By 30th November 2008, there were 38 operational community radio stations in the country. Of these, two are run by NGOs and the rest by educational institutions. According to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, 47 community radio stations were operational in India by 1st November 2009, including 45 campus-based stations and two CRS run by NGOs. By December 2009, the number of CRS run by civil society groups had gone up to seven. By 4th December 2009, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had issued 'Grant of Permission Agreements' (GOPA) for 62 community radio stations of which most were for educational institutions.