To start up any proper community radio station a minimum investment of Rs 6-8 lakh is needed. This can further shoot up to Rs. 25-27 lakh depending on the quality of the transmitter. In addition the station also has to bear the everyday running cost that may range, on an average, anywhere between Rs 30,000-50,000 a month.

Having to make such massive investments, is it possible for any community radio station to survive in absence of profits?

Dr. R. Sreedher, the Director of Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMA) has a different take. “Nothing comes free of cost, not even social service. No community can run a station without churning out some profit to manage its day-to-day activities,” he says. “There must be some mechanism to generate some profits”.

His views are also echoed by G.R. Syed, In-charge of Radio Jamia. “Even if you call an MBBS doctor he demands for some money. You just can’t run a station with the help of volunteers for a long time.”

This long running demand for advertisement was also understood by the government. Earlier this year, the government allowed stations to advertise for five minutes in an hour of broadcast.

Although the final guideline is yet to be released, the major emphasis of the guideline is that advertisements should come from the local area only. Advertisement of government programmes and policies can also help great deal. But no national or international ads are allowed.


Community radios were set up on a non-profit model. However an average cost of running a community radio station comes to around 50,000 rupees a month. This includes the maintenance charge, payments to the people employed, rewards to the performers etc.

And for the sake of survival of the radio stations something had to be done. But what? Dr. Sreedher presented a model before the Ministry of information and broadcasting.

“Since government has allowed advertisement for five minutes per hour, if one rupee is charged for one second any station can earn 300 rupees per hour. These charges are nothing compared to All India Radio advertising rates,” he says. “AIR charges thousand rupees per ten second during time category-I, which is between 7- 11 am and 6-9 pm. If community station go on air for let’s say 10 hours a day then the revenue generated will 3000 rupees per day. In a month it will amount to rupees 90,000. Even if any station can get advertisements only for 50% of the allowed time, they will make enough to run the station.”

He further suggested that content production from Ministry of Health, NACO, DST etc. can also form a part of the revenue model. They will even provide the infrastructure or institutional charges for using the facility.

In the case of campus radio, studios can be used for the practical classes. Students of electronic media, journalism and mass communication will get the first hand experience. This will provide the faction of the lab charges to the radio station. Another initiative, which can be taken, is to broadcast birthday greetings for the audiences that have enrolled in, explains Dr Sreedher.

Classifieds ads are another option. Stations can even go for ads like sale of cycles, scooter, tractor, animals, rentals etc. Neighbourhood shopkeepers too can be asked to advertise. This will add to the revenues exponentially.