As Nepal experienced the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic just as the rest of the world did, the value of local broadcasters was amplified like never before. Large portions of rural and semi-urban Nepal depend upon local broadcasters for reliable information, a premium product during the pandemic.
The pandemic has also affected the local radios in an existential crisis, with sources of incomes drying up as sponsors themselves experienced a business crisis. The situation was worsened with many community volunteers and staff falling sick. These coupled with lack of adequate connectivity and electricity supply added to the miseries of operation. The work-from-home solution did not work for the local radio stations, especially in technologically challenged areas.
Disregarding the difficulties and withstanding a slow start, community radios continued to broadcast lifesaving information to the most vulnerable.
Broadcasting media, especially community radio is the most accessible form of mass media in Nepal. Community radios operating in locations poorly served by the government and commercial broadcasters are the most important link between the marginalised persons and the public service providers, including government offices, especially in times of a disaster.
Out of the approximately 800 FM radio stations in Nepal, close to half operate as not-for-profit media outlets, mostly in rural and semi-urban locations. Community radios cover almost the entire population of the country. This is not a small achievement by any yardstick, especially when contrasted with Nepal’s fledgling governance and human rights situation.