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Reversal of fee hike for community radio stations cautiously welcomed

(AMARC/IFEX) - July 31, 2012, Bangalore - Even as the Asia-Pacific Board of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) welcomes recent reports from the Indian media indicating the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology's (MOCIT) decision to "waive" the spectrum fee hike for community radio stations in the country, it hopes that the Government will consider a roll back of the entire amount.

As a global network committed to media democratization and to the strengthening of the voices of the excluded through community radio, AMARC underscores the importance of the Principles of Broadcasting Diversity as articulated by the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression: "community broadcasting should be explicitly recognized in law as a distinct form of broadcasting (and) should benefit from fair and simple licensing procedures . . . (and) should benefit from concessionary license fees."

AMARC congratulates the entire community radio sector in the country for their concerted efforts to reverse the hike. While it is not, as yet, clear if the roll back implies a complete waiver or a roll back to the earlier amount of Rs 19,700, an official announcement is expected shortly to clarify the decision.

In April 2012, the MOCIT had announced a 450 % hike in the spectrum fee from Rs 19,700 per annum to Rs 91,000. The hike was in sharp contrast to the purpose of community radio providing a voice to the voiceless and evoked strong reactions from the community radio sector within and outside India.

The Board also acknowledges and appreciates the support of several AMARC members who supported the campaign to revoke the hike. Representatives from 55 countries who are part of the AMARC network came forward to evince their concern and provided information regarding spectrum and license fees in their country.

Click here for a table outlining spectrum, licence and other fees for community radios across the globe
amarc_spectrumandlicencefees.pdf (448 KB)

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