MOIB initiates the GOPA renewal process
Community Radio Stations waiting to renew their expired Grant of Permission Agreements (GOPA) can approach the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to get their license agreements renewed.
“An approval has been obtained for renewing the Grant for Permission Agreements for all Community Radio Stations whose GOPA had expired and were awaiting renewal. For renewing permission the Community Radio Stations would have to submit an undertaking to renew the GOPA for next five years along with a renewed bank guarantee valid for five years” said Supriya Sahu, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has also released a notice to this effect stating the necessary conditions a Community Radio Station needs to fulfill in order to renew their expired Grant of Permission Agreement.
The Grant of Permission Agreement (GOPA), is an agreement between the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MoIB) and the Permission Holder which lays down the terms and conditions of broadcast of the operational Community Radio Station. The GOPA is valid for a period of five years and once the validity finishes, the license holder is supposed to renew the GOPA with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting had approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in January 2014. The authority was asked to examine the issues arising out of the expiry of GOPA for the Community Radio Stations who had been issued GOPA under the 2006 policy guidelines and had to face renewal.
The authority was further asked to provide recommendations on the issues arising out of the functioning of Community Radio Stations. In this regard, if the permission of Community Radio Stations should be renewed after expiry of GOPA and if yes, what were the terms and conditions. They also had to deliberate on the issue whether in the interim period Community Radio Stations can be allowed to continue their operations and if yes, for what period and under what terms and conditions.
The Telecom Authority of India decided to follow a public consultative process before providing its final recommendations. Various issues relating to Community Radio were raised in the consultative paper released by TRAI and the last date for receiving comments was decided as 11th June 2014. The Ministry received comments from TRAI by the second week of June and issued a notice stating the GOPA renewal process to be undertaken by Community Radio Stations.
The notice released by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting would definitely ease the tension and stress arising out of the expiry of the Grant of Permission Agreement for a lot of operational stations awaiting renewal.
Since the initiation of the Community Radio Policy guidelines in 2002, 461 permissions have been issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting till date. Out of the 461 permissions granted we have 171 operational Community Radio Stations operators broadcasting across the country. Many of the operating Community Radio Stations who had been granted permission in the past years had to renew their Grant of Permission Agreements (GOPA) recently.
Author: Rupica Saxena Bisht, CRFC