Established in 1997, Radio Sagarmatha is the first independent community radio in entire South Asia. On air from 5 am to 11 pm every day from its studio in Lalitpur, it has evolved as a truly independent and highly credible community radio of Nepal. Radio Sagarmatha had got the license following nearly half a decade of struggle, with as many as 17 conditions which must be adhered to. The conditions included that Radio Sagarmatha cannot broadcast news and current affair programs while also refraining from taking up economic agenda. The permit was issued allowing broadcast time of two hours a day using 100 watt transmitter. Another condition was that government officials would vet the issues which would form the program.
But Radio Sagamatha soon started talking the language of the people by breaking the monopoly of government-owned radio going back to 50 years. It started its mission by giving voice to the people by respecting the right of the people to information while also giving them voice so that they too can come up with their views on issues of public concern. However it was not a joy ride for Radio Sagarmatha since it had to face a number of obstacles and hardship coming to it from both democratic and regressive regimes. But it came out successful in both expanding its mandate and area of work. Said conversely, Radio Sagarmatha is itself a social campaign and saga of continual struggle.
It really came out as a player of the big league when it played an important role during the Free Independent Radio Movement before the year 2005. That was the period which saw community broadcasting coming under the scanner of the erstwhile government with the ulterior motives of gagging the free voice of the community. True to its objectives of playing the role of defender of democracy, Radio Sagarmatha has successfully espoused the cause of freedom of the speech, rule of law, desired gender relations, human and women's rights and role of youth in economic development throughout the past while the mission remains unchanged. What's more, it has been setting community and public interest broadcasting standard in not only Nepal but in entire South Asia.
It is verily the defender of democracy and freedom of speech. This was substantiated by a crackdown on it during the royal regime in December 2005 when a troop of army raided out studio and took away equipment and arrested journalists on duty for merely broadcasting an interview of CPN-Maoist Chairman Prachanda from BBC Nepal Service as part of the long-running arrangement with the BBC. A spirited fight culminated in the discomfiture of authoritarianism. It has emerged stronger than ever.
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