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Role Of Community Radio Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3703 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In this study, the researcher is intended to unveil the impact of community radio on social development in Pakistan. The work at hand will measure the role of existing three community radios RASTA FM 88.6 launched by Punjab Traffic Police in November 2010, PUFM 104.6 launched by Institute of communication studies, University of Punjab in June 2004 and UAF FM 100.4 launched by Agriculture University, Faisalabad in August 2012, out of thirty four.

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‘Community’ has been defined as a “group of interacting people living in a common location” (Wikipedia, 2012). Sub-continent, of which Pakistan forms a major chunk, is a part of earth where different religious, ethnic, economic and cultural groups, say communities, are living together at sizeable social distances since long. Before the world shaped itself into “Global Village” with help of new inventions in the field of media and technologies as Marshal McLuhan declared it in 1964, these groups never had a chance to interact with each other freely, thus giving rise to differences and sense of alienation among them. Pakistan emerged on the map of the world gaining independence from British rule in 1947 and nascent state could not help its communities reduce gap among them. The main factor that kept crippling the nation factor was state-controlled communication that served general masses, but did not voice for the genuine need of variety of communities to come closer to create homogeneity. As a result, Pakistan faced the first jerk in 1971 when it lost Bangladesh, the then East-Pakistan (Umm-e-Habiba, (2002). The remaining area of Pakistan bears same cultural distribution of people as it had before 1971 as the East Pakistan was a separate part of land of the nation. This diversity in population has turned into serious threat for national integration for the land in recent years as the differences are emerging at a rapid pace in some parts like Baluchistan and Saraiki belt aggrieved by the policies of the ruling class and absence of fora like community radio.

“Radio by and for the community, be that a physical one or a community of interest”, quotes Mary Myers after years of experience and expertise in international media development (CIMA, 2008). He stresses upon the participation of community transforming itself in all aspects.

UNESCO report (2001) on ‘Community Radio’ defines radio as follows; (Cammaerts, 2010).

Community broadcasting is a non-profit service that is owned by a particular community, usually through a trust, foundation, or association.

Media Act 1995 of Hungry states community radio as “non-profit broadcasters” and defines its duties in the words to follow that it “agrees to serve national, ethnic or other minority goals, cultural aims or a disadvantaged group, or intends to serve as the public life forum of a community, provided it uses financial profit generated by the broadcasting, as recorded separately, solely for the maintenance and development of the broadcasting” (Act 1 of 1996, Article 2) (Hungarian Federation of Free Radio, 1992). This definition clears the position of community radio as non-profit entity dedicated to serve a specific group of a geographic location.

Right from its origin, community radio is a tool to bridge the gaps between people and their surroundings, whether it is another group or their government. In this scenario, researcher intends to study whether the concept of community radio can help combat these problems where such type of radio in addition to “Public Radio” and “Commercial Radio” is invented to serve the stated purpose. For this reason, researcher is keen to explore the impact of already on-aired community radios in different cities of Pakistan. If it is a successful experiment so far, it can save Pakistan from getting into more troubled waters in terms of the exploding factional differences and glue the society together through provision of the highly needed local ventilation of their deep concerns.

Objective of the Study:

Objectives of the study are;

To gauge the role of community radios in educating people towards a healthy society.

To study the context and contents of programs being on-aired for the purpose of promoting the sense of social co-existence.

To measure the penetration of community radios in serving infotainment needs of listeners.

To compare and explore the difference of educational approach of selected community radios.

To explore the level of participation of people towards selected community radios.

To measure the satisfaction level of listeners of selected community radio.

To measure the difficulties faced by selected community radios in terms of technical and financial resources in their effort to educate society.

Rationale for the study:

The aim of the study is to analyse the efforts of community radios of selected areas of Pakistan in educating people to build a healthy and peaceful society by feeding the need of people for information and right direction by providing them with the desired outlet at local levels. As it is clear from the definition of community radios, it has capacity to change the minds of people in positive direction by serving them and enabling them to know their rights and responsibilities. Cultural preservation, language protection, education of individuals, reducing religious differences, ethnic problems, gender discrimination, digital divide and extremism, enhancing women empowerment, helping disaster management can be done through community radio. It also enhances people’s participation in community development that directly increases their sense of responsibility. It is high time for Pakistan to make its people realize their worth as a member of society where every individual can play a vital role in strengthening the roots of democracy and rule of law. Thus, the role of community radios, if it be run-on philosophical lines behind its emergence, can change the future of country, the reason researcher intends to study and measure the role of selected existing community radios in Pakistan.

Scope of Study:

Scope of the study is broad based and far reaching. It contemplates deep implications as the concept of community radio can play vital role in fostering social development among the deprived and digitally divided parts of Pakistan. As a developing state, Pakistan needs to address many grave issues out of which educating minds of people towards their role in social development and responsibility towards state are sublime and the most immediate ones. It can be done by airing the voice of the voiceless and broadcasting for grass root level. This study will help evaluate the current scenario of community radios as well as measure community mobilization through them. It will also help media practitioners design future strategy for setting up effective community radio.

Literature Review:

A literature review is a systematic search and analysis of published information that the scholars and researchers have written on a topic (8). It helps to reduce the chances of duplication along with indicating the direction of your research scope to maximize the reward of research.

The study at hand intends to examine the role of community radios in social development of Pakistan. The researcher has planned to explore the following possible sources to sharpen the conceptual and theoretical dimensions of the study.

Research Journals



Online Articles

Online books, newspaper & magazine articles etc

Sharma. K.J. (2003) in his book “Digital Broadcasting journalism’ studies the evolution of community radio in the world”. He stresses upon the need of more number of community radios in order to bring people together. He gives example of Radio Mahaweli of Sri Lanka established in 1979 by UNESCO and DANIDA after the launch of construction plan of hydroelectric dam in the area. It helped local community move efficiently to new homes. The six year broadcast of mobile radio played a vital role in smooth and successful movement of a great number of populations. He argues that third world countries specially the African and Asian need to improve the structure of community radios for fighting the hardships and bringing about better growth rate.

Tahir. N. S. (2010) in her article “Community Radio Still a Tool of Social Change. Still a Far Cry in Pakistan’ studies the history of radio in Pakistan and discusses the current development of community radios”. She calls government & dictorial regime of media responsible for slow development of community radios. She fears local ethnic and extremist authorities to misuse these community stations for illegal operations. She concludes that it is right time for the Pakistan to realize the importance of community radios and establish as vast network of the same as possible to curb social evils like extremism & corruption. The question of misuse does not stand authentic anymore when a proper authority in the form of PEMRA exists to make sure a well directed and regulated use of community radios.

Kanayama. T. (no. 29, 2007, Keio Communication Review highlights the “role of community radio.” In his research article ‘Community Ties and Revitalization: The Role of Community Radio in Japan’ he tells how community radio plays a role in revitalizing local community in Japan. With the localism movement, most influential of all in the Japanese campaign for community broadcasting (Radio) was the government information policy in late 1980, which eventually enforced the community broadcasting law in 1992 to provide local information to local people via community radio, also community FM. Since the earth quake of 1995, importance of balanced and timely information of community radio has been realized. Community radio has also played a vital role in motivating people for the construction of new system after the collapse of existing one. It played a role of revitaliser for the community of Japan.

Zahid. M. (2007) in his research “Role of Radio in Disaster Management. the case study of PUFM 104.6 at Muzafarabad’ studies the role of radio in disaster management.” He takes example of PUFM 104.6 which, after earth quake of 2005, started its services for feeding the information needs of disaster hit people. He concludes his study by declaring radio a successful tool to help fight crises and disasters. He also favours this idea by calling it economical and the quickest way to bridge communication gap in disaster management.

Information for development, an international research journal of India that encompasses the role and relevance of ICT (information communication technology) in various development sectors such as rural development, gender, governance, micro-finance, education, health, wireless communication, ICT for poor, local content, culture and heritage and many more published a report on community radio in Pakistan in 2008. This report took into account the history of community radio in Pakistan before and after the establishment of PEMRA. It takes into account the reasons for slow development of community radio in Pakistan and questions PEMRA about it. This report also describes the role of already established commercial and campus radios for training media students. It also highlights the problem of pirates who had been running illegal radio stations in Baluchistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir. It urges PEMRA to play more efficient role in establishing more number of community radios for the welfare of society.

Once again in 2010, AMARC and Pakistan Press Foundation appealed for setting up community radio in flood affected areas in Pakistan. In the statement they said,” the authorities have been asked to be “flexible and responsive to proposals for the establishment of community based broadcasting mechanisms so that any information gap that exists among the affected people is fulfilled and relief operations are made highly effective.” They also acknowledged the role of radio in disaster management and crisis in earth quakes of Haiti and floods of Indonesia. Further, in the advocacy of their appeal they added, “There is a need to complement these efforts by bridging the gaps of information at the very local levels and among displaced people. This can be effectively achieved by setting up emergency community radio stations”. This appeal was heard and UNESCO, with help of local authorities, established radio stations at the cost of $400,000/-. (15)

Pakistan Press Foundation (2012) organised a three days workshop for the training of media professionals to work for the betterment of society. They invited experts and scholars of the time to train media professional to play active role in community development. It was agreed that community radio are playing vital role in improving gender justice and women empowerment. Thus, vowing to spread and strengthen the network of community radios to rural areas as early as possible.

IFEX report (2010), reviews the role of its partner foundation of Pakistan called Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF). The report takes into account all activities of PPF to establish visible and effective network of community radios since the Pakistan faced first huge natural calamity of the present century in 2005 in the form of earth quake. IFX appreciates the policies of PPF to help bridge information gap of disaster hit population after they lost all infrastructure of sources of information. Furthermore, this report believes that change is gaining ground after the struggle of PPF and deprived areas and people are now able to receive required information to be useful part of community. It stresses upon the continuity of this effort to maximize it to the maximum possible limit.

Theoretical Framework:

Stephen Littlejohn & Karen Foss (2008) define theory as “any organized set of concepts, explanation and principles of some aspects of human experience.” (Cited in Baran & Davis, 2009, p.11)

Theory and research are interrelated to each other in a way that theory is important to conduct a research to provide basic guideline, whereas research helps in constructing, building, modifying or testing theories. The theories used to support this study are the democratization or democratic participant theory. It emphasizes and supports following namely;

The media’s multiplicity;

Local nature of media;

Usage of the media in small scale;

De-institutionalizing media;

Reciprocal part of recipient or communicator;

Horizontal media;

Involvement and interaction.

Democratization / Democratic Participant Media Theory’s stapleprinciples are summarized by Mc Quail, in the year 1987. The principles are mentioned below:

Minority-groups and individuals must be capable of enforcing the claims made by them for:

Freedom of approaching to media.

Freedom of asking for the service against the needs, demanded by them, to the media.

Media’s organization and message content should be designed in such a way that it is not affected by the bureaucratic and political control.

Existence of media should be proved in respect of the interests and need of the recipients & should not be justified in respect of interests and needs of media entity, professional workers of media or the advertisers.

Communities, organizations and groups must own media individually.

Participatory, small-scale and interactive types of the media have been considered of more profit in comparison to unidirectional and large-scale media. The latter are taken into use only by professional-media-workers.

Generally, needs of the society are not taken into consideration by the well established media.

Democratic Participant Media Theoryconsiders communication or mass media as very important and should be managed by the professionals.

Democratic-participant theory is in the support of following points:

Freedom to associated local data.

Freedom for answering back

Freedom for using new communication means for the purpose of interaction

Freedom of taking social-action in community, subculture’s and interest-group’s small-scale settings of subcultures and interest group.

Research Question & Methodology:

Research Questions:

Do community radios educate people in Pakistan? If so, to what extent?

What is level of participation of communities in achieving goals of community radios?

Do community radios have enough resources to carry out their functions in Pakistan?

Do community radios fulfil infotainment needs of listeners? If so, the extent of fulfilment and loopholes if any.

Does content of community radios promote the sense of social co-existence in Pakistan?


H.1. Community radios are efficient tools for educating people of Pakistan.

H.2. Community radios are helping bridge gap of infotainment needs of listeners.

H.3. Content of community radios is promoting the sense of social co-existence in Pakistan.

H.4. Communities are participating in achieving goals of community radios.

H.5. Community radios do not have enough resources and facilities to carry out their functions in Pakistan.


“Methodology is a research strategy that translates ontological and epistemological principle into guidelines that shows how research is to be conducted”. (Sarantakos, 2005, p.30)

To study the “the role of community radio in social development in Pakistan. A case study of RASTA FM 88.8, UAF FM 100.4 & PUFM 104.6”, the researcher will use the survey research method and content analysis. The researcher will make an effort to test the research questions and hypotheses by selecting universe and drawing out an appropriate sample, followed by measurement rules, data presentation and analyses.

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The researcher selects the survey method for the study.” Surveys are methods of data collection in which information is gathered through oral or written questioning. Oral questioning is known as interviewing and written questioning is accomplished through questionnaire, which are administered to the respondents by mail or handed to them personally by the researcher in their homes, at work, at school or any other place they are returned to the researcher after completion. These are also known as self-administered or self-completion questionnaire”. (Sarantakos, 2005, p.239).

The researcher has selected questionnaire as a tool for the collection of data. The proposed research study contains two kinds of questions.

Open-ended questions

Close-ended questions

“Open-ended question requires respondents to generate their own answers.” (Wimmer & Dominick, 2011, p.187).

“In Close-ended question respondents select an answer from a list provided by the researcher.” (Wimmer & Dominick, 2011, p.188).

The researcher also intends to use the content analysis method as well. Ole Holsti (1969) offers a broad definition of content analysis as “any technique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified characteristics of messages.” (Holsti, 1969)

According to Dr. Klaus Krippendorff (1980 and 2004), six questions must be addressed in every content analysis:

Which data are analyzed?

How are they defined?

What is the population from which they are drawn?

What is the context relative to which the data are analyzed?

What are the boundaries of the analysis?

What is the target of the inferences?

The researcher plans to analyze the programs of selected community radios in order to test the hypothesis and research questions to reach final conclusion.


“To define the universe is to specify the boundaries of the content to be considered”. (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003, p.145).

The universe of present study is the community radios of Pakistan.


“A sample is a subset of the population that is representative of the entire population”. (Wimmer& Dominick, 2003, p.84).

The sample of the present study is listener of selected community radios of Pakistan.

The researcher selected three community radios of Pakistan that are following:

RASTA FM 88.8, Lahore

PUFM 104.6, Lahore

UAF FM 100.4, Faisalabad

The researcher has selected these radios because Lahore is the capital of Punjab, And Faisalabad is the hub of business of Pakistan where students have better opportunities for educational and all the educational institutes are well equipped with technology, and community radios of these areas are considered efficient in their working for the mobilization of community. Also, the community of these areas is well educated as compared to those of other parts of country and people of these areas are considered to be more efficient and active to play their role for their society.

Listeners will be selected through simple random sampling which is a type of probability sampling. “Simple random sampling is a sampling, where each subject or unit in the population has an equal chance of being selected.” (Wimmer & Dominick, 2006, P.82)

Sample size:

The sample of the present study are listeners community radios of Pakistan and the sample size would be 100 respondents from each radio station, so the total sample size would be of 300.


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