AMARC urges spectrum fee roll back in India

Bangalore, India, May 14th, 2012. The Asia Pacific Board of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) is deeply concerned at the recent spectrum fee hike imposed by the Government of India. One of the milestones of the Community Radio Guidelines of 2006 was the creation of a distinct three tiered radio policy - public, private and community - based on the promise of inclusiveness and equity. As a result of these guidelines, India became the first country in South Asia to have a distinct policy for community radio which took sides with the excluded and marginalized. By raising the spectrum fee from Rs 19,700/- per annum to Rs 91,000/- per annum (USD 1690), the policy would appear to defeat the  purpose of providing a voice to the voiceless and blurring these distinctions.
As a global network committed to media democratization and strengthening the voices of the excluded through community radio, AMARC supports the Community Radio Forum of India's (CRF) stand that  the hike will "choke the rights of communities to voice." Further, it goes against the spirit of the citizens' fundamental right to speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19 Clause 1 Sub Clause A of the Indian Constitution.
As a result of the hike, "genuine and grassroots communities will be excluded and community radio will be a mockery of the stated policy objectives of the government of India."
A recent rapid assessment survey conducted by the AMARC International Secretariat indicates that the movement towards reducing spectrum fees is gaining ground across the world. Countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, South Africa, and Uruguay do not levy a spectrum fee, while in countries like Bangladesh, Colombia, and Nicaragua the amount ranges from USD 150 to USD 480.
AMARC urges the Government of India to urgently enable an inclusive and truly participative community climate in India by taking steps that will revoke the spectrum fee hike as well as end other restrictions like the ban on news.

Ashish Sen, President
Suman Basnet, Regional Coordinator
AMARC Asia Pacific

Through service to members, networking and project implementation, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), brings together a network of more than 4,000 community radios, Federations and community media stakeholders in more than 130 countries. The main global impact of AMARC since its creation in 1983, has been to accompany and support the establishment of a worldwide community radio sector that has democratized the media sector. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighbourhood levels and defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through solidarity, networking and cooperation.

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