~e; browsing the radionet

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Thu, 4 Apr 2002 22:55:13 -0600

[this is a post forwarded from the DEVMEDIA  list
(Media  for  Development  in Democracy). if it is
as it may indicate, radio browsing could be data-
based, thus cached, for re-listening to content.
but cannot tell if this is what is what's going on]

====== Forwarded Message ======
Date: 4/4/02 6:47 PM
Received: 4/4/02 5:03 PM
From: media@WEB.NET (George(s) Lessard)

------- Forwarded message follows -------
From: Frederick Noronha <fred@bytesforall.org>
To:  cr-india@sarai.net
Subject:  [cr-india] Radio as a tool to browse the Net (fwd)
Date sent:  Thu, 4 Apr 2002 11:44:35 +0530 (IST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Radio as a tool to browse the Net

PTI [ TUESDAY, APRIL 02, 2002  10:27:48 AM ]

NEW DELHI: People on the wrong side of the digital divide can now,
through an interactive radio programme called 'radio browsing', ask
experts to surf the internet on their behalf and transmit information
in response to their requests.

"Presenters select relevant, reliable Websites and broadcast the
programme with local resource persons as studio guests, like doctors
for a health programme, who discuss the contents of the mostly
English-language sites directly in local languages," says Unesco
regional communication advisor W Jayaweera.

Listeners, thus, not only get information they requested, but
understand how it is made available on the web. They can react to it
and know that key data will remain available in the community
database enabling an entire community access to online information in
their own language.

"It is a unique strategy for bringing poor or marginalised
communities mass, indirect access to online information. It is now a
model for developing community multimedia centres throughout the
developing world," says the Unesco official, adding the project
initiated 5 years ago is already proving to be a success in several
Third World countires.

"Radio browsing is already adapted by Bhutan Broadcasting Service in
Bhutan and two radio stations in Nepal apart from community radio
stations in Philippines, Niger and Uganda."

"Even Pakistan, after acknowledging our efforts, has announced a new
broadcasting regulatory regime under which community radio stations
are allowed," he says, adding that Unesco now wants to replicate the
model in India.

However, this unique experiment is yet to take off in the country due
to concerns about its possible misuse as a tool of disintegration of

Cyberlaw experts like Pavan Duggal fear that interception, being a
very tedious process due to the peculiarities of this complex
country, there is possibility of misuse by separatists and

"There should be a strong licensing regime," he says.

The policy-makers might now consider promoting the novel 'radio-
browsing programme' after the passage of the Information Technology
Act, 2000, which empowers the Controller of Certifying Authority to
order interception.

Also, the recently passed anti-terrorism Bill -- which gives
evidentiary value to such intercepts -- could provide the necessary

Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj's recent
announcement that she favours introducing a policy which will
facilitate "narrowcasting" is seen by the social sector as a positive
sign from the government towards allowing 'radio browsing' in the
country through community radio stations.

However, Jayaweera brushes aside fears of armed groups using
community radio and programmes like radio browsing to promote their
own separatist agenda: "In the countries with conflicts such as Sri
Lanka, South Africa and Nepal, community radio is operational without
any threat of acquire by armed groups."

"In fact, it helps bottom-up decision making from each and every
community in the decentralised administration. Therefore, it
facilitates the process of true and democratic nation building," he

Tea farmers in Kothmale, Sri Lanka could improve their tea drying
techniques as a result of web infromation shared on these programmes.

"Similarly other farmers in Timbuktu, Mali - where four radio
stations received a suitcase radio comprising a complete broadcasting
unit from Unesco for production of programmes using internet - found
more information on improved methods of growing and storage of their
crop besides knowing export possibilities and location-specific
weather reports," he says, adding village bakers can find new recipes
and funeral undertakers can learn more about embalming techniques.

All India Radio (AIR) officials are receptive to the concept of radio
browsing perhaps through the five community radio stations in the
remote areas of the Northeast, notes AIR chief engineer HO

He however points out that the state radio already has similar
programmes which induces the listeners to check-out the internet.

"The 75 local radio stations broadcasts programmes like Krishidarshan
-- programme for agriculturists -- apart from phone- in programmes
during which listeners can ask experts questions about the new media
and its content."

But according to a recent India Human Development Report, only 51 per
cent of the villages have access to telephone within two km distance,
says Centre for Media Studies director N Bhaskara Rao.

"Despite high talk and specific targets, we are far from taking the
technoligies to rural
areas. Even in Andhra Pradesh, a state which is a pioneer in rural
phones, 20 per cent of
villages are without a phone. When this is the scenario, how many
people can afford phone-in
programmes," he says.

The successful deployment of the traditional and new media combine to
increase the level of IT
awareness apart from providing new livelihood areas to the
marginalised communities in
Kothmale in Sri Lanka and Timbuktu in Mali should set the
policymakers thinking on giving
permission to similar ventures in the country.

"Digitalisation should mean digital dividend and increased access
mean empowerment for more people, not the same people. Only then it
will narrow the digital divide," says Rao.


*** Via / From / Thanks to the following :
CR-india mailing list

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