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University FM station non-functional

Saturday, July 15, 2017
By Philip Varghese

A Right to Information (RTI) query has discovered that MU had established a FM radio service set at 107.8 FM-named 'Mumbai University Students Transmission' (MUST) by incurring a cost of Rs. 23 lakhs and has been recurring expenses of Rs 12 lakhs per year even as the service remains non-functional since years.  

Nine years after the Mumbai University (MU) launched its own community radio station, the service is non-functional since several years even as the service has a recurring expenses of Rs. 12 lakhs per year.

The matter came to light through a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by activist Anil Galgali to the Mumbai University seeking details of the FM Radio service and other information related to it.

The RTI has discovered that MU had established this FM radio service set at 107.8 FM-named 'Mumbai University Students Transmission' (MUST) by incurring a cost of Rs. 23 lakhs and has a recurring expenses of Rs 12 lakhs per year, while the service remains non-functional since years.

In a reply to the RTI query from Mumbai University's Department of Economics Co-ordinator Neeraj Hatekar, he informed that the FM community radio service of the Mumbai University is currently not on air as new transmitter is being acquired. “The old transmitter which has been in service for about 11 years needs to be replaced and the appropriate procedure is being followed. The FM radio service was launched by the President Of India, Pratibha Singh Patil on February 8, 2008. The initial budget allocation for setting up the radio station in 2006 was Rs. 25 lakhs out of which Rs. 22,80,798 was spent on the cost of installation and equipment. The average annual budget of the radio has been Rs. 12 lakhs. The actual expenditure incurred was each and every year less than Rs.12 lakhs. The details of the expenditure us being collated and will be sent you shortly,” the reply from MU stated.

It will be recalled that in 2003-04, Senate member Dr. Amarjit Singh Manhas, Sameer Desai, Prashant Patil, Tushar Jagtap had then initiated this proposal before the Vice Chancellor.

Galgali said, “Keeping in mind the wider reach of radio as a medium of communication, a number of colleges have set up their own stations to reach out to the student community.  Be it examinations results declaration or FM radio service, the Mumbai University is proving to be a complete failure in all its functions. I have written to the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as well as Governor of Maharashtra who is also the Chancellor of the MU to restart the defunct radio services so that it could benefit lakhs of students.”

The concept of 'Community radio broadcasting' was opened up for academic institutions through a policy introduced in December, 2002. Following the expansion of scope in 2006 to include NGO’s as well, the community radio activity picked up pace in the country. Already more than 30 campus radio services are in operation, with the Anna University, Chennai’s  Anna FM being the first to go on air on February 1, 2004.

Sources said that the MUST Radio, when launched, was a mix of information and entertainment, broadcasting community-related programmes as well as public lectures and discussions dealing with students’ issues. The station’s range was restricted to a radius of 3 km around the campus. But was accessible worldwide through internet. A section of the programmes addressed queries related to the university system through a phone-in system.

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