De-licensing is the way forward

In an interview with CRFC, Jayalakshmi Chittor talks about how the Government is increasingly moving away from the trends of globalisation and that the way forward should be de-licensing.

In a time when every sector is moving towards deregulation and de-licensing, why is it that the Community Radio sector alone is not a part of this shift?

In every sector, we are witnessing the concept of de-licensing, especially because we are moving towards globalisation. Community radio is an entirely different concept, it does not follow globalisation. Instead, it has a concept of looking inward.

Here, we talk about a community and we give power to the community. When the government thinks of de-licensing, it fears losing its power. The government is also weary of whether the power of the license is being giving to the right person or in the right hands. Will they understand the importance of the natural resources?

So, I think that’s the reason why the government is being strict with the licensing process. But, there has been a change in policy, earlier only educational institutions were allowed to run a CR stations but since 2006 the licensing policy opened up for NGOs as well.

Now, the license is being given to three types of institutions- educational institutions, NGOs and Krishi Vigyan Kendras with the requirement of three years of establishment. It is not very difficult it is just that they are unaware of the procedures and the complexity of the technical issues.

Given the number of Ministries that need to sign off before a license is approved does it make sense for us to move towards Single Window Clearance System?

It is true that an applicant has to cross many steps. First, they face many problems to get the right information about the applications. It is good to see that CRFC is working on it and making things easier. But, the entire procedure can be further simplified.

Applicants have to run from pillar to post. First they go to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, then to the Wireless Planning and Coordination Wing of the Department of Telecommunication, then back to the ministry.

If they increase the responsibility of the CRFC and ask the applicants to fill all the details and submit all the required drafts together at one counter, it would help them a lot. One programme management unit can also be formed to ease the entire licensing procedure more comprehensive by the ministry.

Jayalakshmi Chittoor is a Community Media Expert and Consultant, Programme Management, Development Communications, ICT4D and Knowledge Management