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Radio News: Nepal and India have community radio issues

May 13, 2015 10:35 pm
Nepal has been rocked by two devasting earthquakes, with major infrastructure destroyed, and the most mountainous landscape in the world making it difficult for relief or information to get delivered. The first quake, at 7.8-magnitude, killed 8,000 people, the second frightened the victims there, with many sleeping outdoors in its aftermath. With many phone lines down and electricity out, battery-operated radio receivers are the only link to the outside world in some towns and valleys. There were 263 operational community radio stations in Nepal when the earthquake struck; 20 were destroyed in the first earthquake according to Shivam Vij in Scroll.in. The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) reports, "Our staff from the Asia Pacific office are on the ground and hard at work, in collaboration with the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB), assessing the status of community radios that have been damaged by the earthquake. Teams have been deployed in the field and are visiting some of the most severely impacted districts. More than a hundred radio stations in 30 districts have been affected and are in need of urgent help," the group wrote in an online appeal for help. AMARC is raising funds to repair studios and broadcasting equipment; repair or rebuild antennas, towers, power generation sources; buy computers and broadcasting equipment; and buy portable audio recorders and cameras for stations in Nepal. To help, one can click on http://www.amarc.org/?q=nepal. Next-door neighbor India isn't suffering from a natural disaster, but its community radio stations need help just the same. Mayank Jain at Scroll.in reports India only has 179 community radio stations instead of the 4,000 the government promised in 2007. While Nepal has 263 community radio stations, India has only 245 commercial radio stations in a much larger country. "More than 70 percent of [the] Indian population lives in villages and a vast majority of them have little to no connectivity to Internet, electricity, or telephone lines making radio the only feasible medium for mass communication," Jain writes. One radio organizer, Shubhranshu Choudhary, the founder of CGNet Swara, an organisation involved with setting up community radio and call centres to relay citizen news in Chhattisgarh says, "Community radio is a joke.... It’s not meant for communities but for the rich and powerful who funnily enough, don’t threaten the government, but common people do.”