Community media may be termed as any form of media that is created, managed and controlled by a community or a social group, either its’ existence in a geographic terrain or its’ identity or interest. The nature of community media is different from commercial media or state run media. As media created by a community, there is an implied component of community engagement in the management, production, circulation etc. The community media may be based on different forms of media, such as print, electronic or new media. Community newspapers, community magazines come under community print media. It is perhaps oldest form of community media after traditional folk media. The practice of publishing community newspapers and magazine constitutes one of the most common trends of community engagement in communication for the societal architecture of South Asian nations.
Community Radio (CR) as a significant form of community media, is said to be a medium of the people, operated by the people for the people on about the people. CR is widely recognized as being among the most economical and affordable broadcast media, utilizing innovative low-cost technological solutions. It is particularly well suited for reaching the unreached, citizens at the grassroots, disadvantaged or marginalized groups. CR stations play a valuable and significant role by giving common citizens a voice. CR provides a platform for members of a community or communities to discuss local issues, exchange views, and enter into a productive dialogue with other groups. It helps in inculcating a sense of belonging and social cohesion among community members.
In India and Bangladesh, CR has played a significant role in democratisation of airwaves for the overall development of a community and to leverage the standard of community livelihoods. Although, India and Bangladesh have nearly 200 operational community radio stations, yet the awareness on the community radio as a tool of development communication among the youth is a matter of concern for the future of this grassroots’ media. Aiming to popularise community radio among the students fraternity, an innovative video challenge on community radio titled “Community Radio Video Challenge (CRVC)” was launched in 2013 as a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its objective was to promote the engagement of the youth, as mentioned by Dr. Sanjaya Mishra, “to engage the Indian youth in CR and promote understanding and importance of CR as an alternative media for the community’s self-expression, learning and development, the CEMCA and UNESCO, New Delhi, have jointly initiated a 3 minutes video competition on ‘Why Community Radio Matters’.”[i] About 15 videos were submitted in the last year[ii]. The award winning videos have been used by many organisations including the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India in different awareness initiatives and publications[iii].
In continuation of the initiation, CEMCA and UNESCO in association with Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication (AIMC) launched the second edition of the CRVC with a theme “Community Radio: Citizens’ Voices, Empowering Societies”[iv]. This year, 35 entries have been received in India and an eminent panel of Jury selected the videos and awarded in a ceremony in New Delhi on June 30, 2015. With the aspiration of Dr. Ramesh Sharma, Director, CEMCA, the initiative have been extended to Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) and received about 20 videos from the students of different educational institutions of Bangladesh. It is really an encouraging beginning of this innovative approach to make the students feel about the importance of community radio. I believe that with this initiative, we are also able to create a large video resources at the YouTube under flexible licensing (Creative Commons) on community radio, which empowers societies by allowing a wide range of social and economic groups to exercise their rights and entitlements in creating awareness on this beautiful medium of communication.