CR-CIT COP Forum
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Discuss how successful is the station in involving members of the community in the various phases of developing a radio programme, such as programme planning, programme production, programme participation and programme post-production. It also helps the station know the amount of participation from within the community and their contributions to programme development.
Discuss on the need for the station to be aware of and comply with the CR guidelines issued by the government. Going beyond the state policy, world over, CR stations formulate their own guidelines and policies that uphold principles of inclusivity, representation, social justice, and ethical codes of conduct for station personnel. This section allows the CR stations to reflect on and adopt these principles.
Volunteers have always been an indispensable part of the community radio sector worldwide. In line with the participatory nature of the medium and the modest financial means of most stations, recruiting volunteers from the community seems to be the best option. For this parameter, we define the term ‘volunteers’ as people who contribute to the CR station, but are not on the station’s payrolls. This section of the toolkit allows CR stations to review their approach to volunteers – recruitment, orientation, incentives provided, and responsibilities assigned. The idea is to have a cadre of volunteers working for the station on a regular basis, keep them motivated through material and non-material incentives, and build a sustained relationship between the station and the community.
Demystifying technology and providing access to the poor and marginalised are key factors in running a truly participatory CR station. Giving space to voices of the marginalised should also involve their using the technology actively. Over-dependence on external experts located at a distance can hamper the day-to-day functioning of the radio station and undermine its efficiency. It is important, therefore, that the station becomes as self-reliant as possible by building technical capacities of its own staff and volunteers.
The national CR policy guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting mandates a CR station to follow AIR’s general Broadcast Code as well as the AIR Commercial Code. This parameter calls on CR stations to not only review their compliance to these stipulated codes, but also examines whether they have in place anything beyond, based on the broader community radio philosophy or on the vision of the parent NGO/CR station. It would be ideal if a CR station moves towards evolving a set of on-air standards that incorporate key principles of community radio and local sensitivities.
Governance refers to the decision-making structures and processes at a CR station. It is expected that these be of a participatory character and incorporate principles of transparency and accountability. Representation of different sections of the community, especially the marginalised, in management structures is a precursor to striving for representation in programming. Involvement in decisionmaking processes would be empowering for those historically excluded. This section allows CR stations to review their performance on the parameter of participatory governance.
A CR station is typically driven by audience interests and concerns. It is essential, therefore, that CR stations have a system in place for documenting, processing, and responding to listener feedback and grievances. For the purpose of this forum, ‘grievances’ are being defined as negative feedback or complaints from the listening community of a CR station. ‘Feedback’ is seen, more generally, as audience responses to programming, including suggestions for changes, improvements, or new initiatives.
The concept of content sharing for CR stations could be viewed primarily as a strategy for building solidarities among the stations. From another perspective, it could be termed a strategy for networking. Practically, a CR station can use this method to obtain additional content, keeping in mind the difficulty of having to generate 100% original content for broadcast. Sharing programmes also allows listeners the opportunity to connect with information related to similarly-placed communities in another geographical location or to enjoy cultural outputs of another community. At a broader level, a CR station committed to giving space to people’s voices in order to bring about desirable social change in their community, may benefit from establishing linkages with wider social movements that are engaged in securing people’s rights.
Community radio stations are expected to be ‘not-for-profit’ entities. The idea here is that community radio is a non-commercial venture, not that it needs to be a loss-making enterprise. Parent organisations and external funding agencies gradually start expecting the station to explore opportunities for generating revenues that would at least meet the operational costs. Where there is external funding involved, the key principle is to ensure that there is diversity in funding sources and that the station is not over-dependent on a single source. It is important that the station makes the community a ‘shareholder’ and holds itself accountable to it. The station’s policies and procedures must, therefore, incorporate principles of transparency and accountability.