ATINER Conference on Communication and Mass Media, May 2023

By Sam Coley on May 15th, 2023

The 21st Annual International Conference on Communication and Mass Media was held between the 8-11 May, ’23, in Athens, Greece. The conference, run by the Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER) is sponsored by the Athens Journal of Mass Media and Communications, and provides regular opportunities for academics and researchers of Communications, Mass Media and other related disciplines to share and discuss their work. I was invited to deliver a remote paper titled “Samugam: The Sustained Relevance of Community Radio in India” on May the 8th, during a session moderated by Olga Gkounta.

This presentation took the 75th anniversary of Indian independence as an opportunity to reflect on radio’s progress in the country. I explored the medium’s development in India and considered its ongoing relevance in an increasingly post-digital world. Much of the presentation focused on the development of community radio and used Anna Community Radio in Chennai as a specific case study.

Anna Community Radio, owned and operated by Anna University, serves poor communities, particularly women, who live in low-income areas around the campus. The station has been recognised by the Indian government as one of the leading examples of the community radio movement. I profiled a collaborative media training initiative, funded by the British Council in 2022, which was established between Birmingham City University and Anna University. The project shared best practices in community radio broadcasting while encouraging students to create audio content. The project was titled ‘Samugam’, the word for community in the Tamil language. I discussed the various challenges and successes of the project, and played interviews with station management which I recorded in March 2023 on a visit to Chennai with Dr Siobhan Stevenson.

Here are excerpts from my interviews with Dr. I. Arul Aram, Professor and Head, Dept. of Media Sciences, and Dr. R. Lavanya, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Media Sciences, at Anna University, Chennai, India.

My paper argued for the ongoing relevance of community radio in India and pointed towards opportunities for its future growth. As the medium has continued to evolve and adapt to new technologies, community radio in India has been quick to embrace the use of social media, on-demand audio, streaming, podcasting, etc. Yet, while delivery platforms may have changed, the central principles of community broadcasting in India remain unchanged.

Anna Community Radio, Chennai