Sangham radio, India’s first community radio run by rural women, based out of Telangana, is on the verge of shutting down due to a financial crisis. The Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO which runs the radio, is looking to crowdsource the funds to keep it alive.
DDS said that it requires at least Rs 10 lakh to replace the existing transmitters, update it to the latest technology and also to pay salaries to DDS employees.
The first of its kind rural community radio for the underprivileged, with 11 journalists and two radio programmers, mostly from the Dalit community officially started operations in 2008, although it had been around for a decade earlier, at Machnoor village, Jharasangam Mandal, in Sangareddy District, after getting a license from the government.
“The radio was running on contributions of Rs 50 each from the villagers, apart from other sources of funding. But now, there’s no funding available to us. Even the Government of India is yet to clear its dues for its advertisements amounting to Rs 3.25 lakhs,” says DDS media coordinator, Krishnaveni.
According to DDS, the Centre hasn’t cleared its dues for the past three years.
She also said that DDS employees haven’t been paid their salaries and, hence, they decided to try crowdsourcing their funds from Milaap.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has strict rules that community radios cannot be supported by international funders and even local advertisers have not shown any interest in airing their ads on the radio, forcing the NGO to consider crowdsourcing the funds.
DDS said that the transmitter donated by UNESCO and later bought with some local contributions from a Dahanu-based company has ceased to operate. The broadcast, which is supposed to reach a radius of 30 kms, now barely covers a 3-km radius.
Very soon, even this may fail and Sangham radio may be silenced forever.
G Narsamma, producer for Sangham radio says, “The transmitter has to be replaced. There are a lot of complaints about poor transmission. Fifty villages surrounding our station rely on this radio channel.”
“Many people tune in to our programmes, which are mostly focused on agriculture and education. We have 11 women reporters, who do ground reporting by visiting each village and then discussing their problems. Our radio is very useful. It has to run,” she appeals.
Sangham radio, an initiative of the DDS was functional since 1998. However, after several deliberations with the government, who opposed the idea of community radio initially, they got permission to run in October, 2008.
At the time of writing, nearly Rs 4,50,000 had been collected.
You can visit Milaap and donate to keep the radio channel alive. The donations can be made via Paytm too.