The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) established in 1944 has considered
social communication as one of the important dimensions of its mission in India.
The General Body meeting of the CBCI held in October 1966 in New Delhi established
the Commission for Social Communications with Bishop L.T. Picachy SJ, of Jamshedpur
as Chairman, and Bishop Alphonsus Mathias of Chikmagalur and Bishop Longinus Pereira,
Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay as members (RGBM 1966). Even prior to that already in
1951 the Standing Committee discussed plans for starting a national Catholic daily
newspaper, regional weekly, a Catholic news cable service.
One of the he first tasks of the Commission was “to arouse in the minds of Catholics
the immense potentialities of mass media in the service of the Church.” A short,
direct appeal was published in the Catholic press. The first meeting of the Commission,
chaired by Bishop Picachy was held at Jamshedpur in April 1967. A national commission,
known as contact, which spelt out as the “Catholic Organisation for News, Television,
Air-waves and Cinema” with twenty members was constituted. The commission comprised
of three Bishops, nine priests, one nun, two lay women and five laymen. Its objectives
- Raising interest in the field of social communications
- To study present possibilities and to assist and coordinate diocesan efforts
- To integrate the work of the Commission with national endeavours.
- To network and coordinate with international bodies in social communications.
The Jamshedpur meeting proposed to conduct an all India survey on social communications.
The participants discussed the possibility of setting up a radio and TV centre in
India to train personnel. It was also decided to appoint a National Director for
the Commission. The Standing Committee entrusted to the Commission the task of discussing
the feasibility and mode of celebrating the World Communication Day, established
by Vatican II.
The meeting also identified tasks ahead, such as:
- strengthening and coordinating the apostolate of the press
- the possibility of establishing a production centre for Radio and TV. It was noted
that Fr. Becker had made some commendable start for cinema. It was also felt that
the most practical way would be to attach this production centre to one of the existing
Catholic colleges, as was successfully done in USA, Taiwan and Philippines.
- The feasibility of accepting the generous offer of Radio Veritas to give India a
full hour’s programme daily. The programs would be recorded in India and sent to
Manila for transmission.
- Some experts had noted that TV would be the most important instrument of the future.
It stressed the importance of training human resource for media, and the need to
be prepared to take on television when it comes to India within a short time. The
meeting also noted the interest in media shown by seminarians and young priests,
some of whom are undergoing training. The meeting felt the need to train some sisters
too in media.
The meeting underlined the need for setting up diocesan committees which should
work in unison with contact, and appealed for donations to support the media ministry
of the CBCI. It reviewed the media scenario in the country and the changes on the
horizon, and called for the urgency of being prepared to face the future.
At the CBCI General Body meeting held at Ernakulum in 1970, it was decided to shift
the secretariat of the Commission for Social Communications to New Delhi. The Communication
Commission was urged to be closely associated with the PR department. The meeting
unanimously passed the following resolution:
“ It was resolved that at the national level there should be a Centre at Delhi for
collecting and disseminating information among all concerned and for fostering public
- To gather information from various sources about the activities of the Church;
- to present such information as effectively as possible;
- to maintain contact with different individuals and institutions both governmental
In his report Archbishop Picachy, Chairman of the Commission informed that a post
graduate institute for social communications media was being planned. The resolutions
appointment of Fr McFarland SJ as the Secretary of the Commission, and Fr Tony
Luiz svd as assistant
shifting of the secretariat of the Commission from Jamshedpur to New Delhi
decision to conduct a feasibility survey and to establish a training institute
to establish a pilot educational TV project at Jamshedpur
to celebrate the World Communications Day on the last Sunday of February, and to
share equally the collection made on the Sunday between the dioceses and the CBCI
In response to the proposal to establish a training institute, in the same year,
the Institute of Communication Arts was established at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay
(GM 1971). In 1981, the Catholic news agency called South Asian Regional News (SAR
News) was started in New Delhi under the auspices of the Indian Catholic Press Association.
SAR News was recognised as an independent Catholic news agency. In 1987 to give
expression to the views and opinion of the Christian community in the mainstream
press, a weekly under the title, The Indian Currents was started from Delhi
under the leadership of Fr. John Vallamattam. In 1998, the CBCI decided to hand
over the management of Indian Currents to the Media House, a Capuchin
publishing house based in NewDelhi. In 1992 the Indian chapter
of the international Catholic Association for Cinema, Radio and Television called
UNDA-OCIC (later renamed Signis) was established. In 1994, Bishop Patrick D’Souza,
the then Chairman of the Commission, presented a proposal to set up a national institute
for training and research in media and communication. The project materialised in
1997, when NISCORT was officially registered as the CBCI Society for Social Communications,
Research and Training in September, 1997. The General Body of the CBCI held in Trichur,
Kerala, in 2004 chose for its theme “Church and Social Communications”. The Commission
was actively involved in the planning and organisation of this event and the preparation
of a national pastoral plan for social communications.
As mandated by General Body Meeting of 2004, the Commission conducted a nationwide
survey on the situation of communication in the church in India. The Commission
works in close collaboration with the Signis India, ICPA, the Pontifical Council
for Social Communications, FABC OSC, Radio Veritas Asia and other media bodies.
In 2010 the Commission launched a program for formation in social communication
in seminaries and religious institutes and published a 3-volume manual and other
resources and conducted several training workshops. In 2010 as part of the initiative
to restructure the CBCI, the Commission was renamed the CBCI Office for Social Communications.
The Commission has been in charge of the official website of the CBCI. In 2012 it
was re-launched. A website policy was prepared and several training programs for
the diocesan web administrators were held. In 2010 the Commission established a
forum of Christian artists named Art.i. Other major initiatives of the Commission
are promotion of Community Radio, formation of a network of Catholic media faculties
in India (2009), network of Catholic publishers (2010).
The CBCI Office for Social Communications (CBCI-OSC) today serves 166 dioceses divided
into 13 regions. Each region is headed by Chairman Bishops and the Regional Secretaries
for Communications. Annual meetings of the Commission and the regional chairman
bishops and secretaries are held to study, report and plan activities. In June 2012,
the CBCI-OSC was shifted to NISCORT when the Secretary was appointed Director of
To build a community of communities of all people in the spirit of Jesus Christ
through social communications.
- To proclaim the Good News through social communications.
- To train Church personnel and laity in social communications.
- To foster a culture of interactive communications at all levels.
- To cultivate media/public relations.
- To advance advocacy to uphold dignity and human rights of all, particularly the
marginalized by creating public opinion.
- To promote universal media education.
- To publish/ produce people’s need based programmes.
- To promote alternative media.
- To celebrate World Communications Day meaningfully.
- To mobilize and allocate human and financial resources.
- To promote accountability and transparency.
- To coordinate communication activities, programmes and projects of the church at
diocesan, regional and national levels.
- To assist regions and dioceses to plan and implement effective programmes for pastoral
- To empower media consumers, especially the youth to be appreciative, critical and
discriminative users of mass media.
- To identify, train and promote young talents for Church's communications work and
for the mainstream media.
- To dialogue with the media professionals and participate in deliberations on issues
related to communications.
- To train personnel among the Church personnel and the community for creative interaction
and participation in media.
- To coordinate the activities of the various media organizations for better networking
and launching of new initiatives.
- To assist the other Commissions of the CBCI by providing communications assistance
through consultancy and training.