Red tape shuts down Mumbai University’s FM channel

Sunday 23 July, 2017


Mumbai University’s FM radio service 'Mumbai University Students Transmission' (MUST) 107.8 FM, which was launched by India’s then President Pratibha Patil in 2008, has been off air for the last few months.

The reason behind this is a damaged transmitter, which developed trouble three months ago, and efforts to make it operational have been stuck in red tape.

According to a Right to Information (RTI) query, the FM service was set up by incurring a cost of $35,680 (Rs 2.3 million) and has had recurring expenses of $18,616 (Rs 1.2 million) per year even as the service remains non-functional.  

Community radio broadcasting was opened up for academic institutions in India through a policy introduced in December, 2002, which was expanded in 2006 to include NGOs as well.

Anna University, Chennai’s Anna FM was the first to go on air in 2004 and now there are more than 30 campus radio services in operation.

MUST Radio was a mix of information and entertainment, broadcasting community-related programmes as well as public lectures and discussions dealing with students’ issues.

The channel had claimed a listenership between 70,000 and 100,000, within a five mile radius of the university campus.

Over the years, 1500 students have benefited from its internship program, including popular local AIR presenters like Amit Dwiwedi, Roshni Shinde, Amit Jadhav and Sharmeen.

Repairing its damaged transmitter is expected to cost $930 (₹60,000).

Pankaj Athawale, coordinator of the channel, told The Hindu: “In the first week of March, the transmitter, which is around 11 years old, conked off. The entire administration of the MU has collapsed. Procedures and practices followed by the administration and accounts departments of the MU function are ad hoc and red tape is the sole cause of the current predicament. I have conveyed to the audit department officials of MU and told them that all the apparent systems in place in the university are only on paper.”

Athawale, who has been on contract since 2008, said work at the university was carried out using age-old procedures, without proper documentation, and on orders passed on by clerks and accountants.

He told the publication: “Things have come to such a pass that vendors have refused to provide technical and operational support till their long-pending dues are cleared by the MU. A year ago, we tried tendering for the transmitter, but somewhere along the MU-prescribed process, the documents got lost or buried in bureaucratic red tape.”

Country India
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