Contribution by the Community Media Initiative to the Drafting Process
Community and Non-Profit Media should be promoted, supported and actively developed.
New guiding principle:
Priority should be given to community-driven communication initiatives, developed in response to local needs and under community control.
Technology systems to be developed must be appropriate to local environments. Community and non-profit media, such as Community Radio and local newsletters represent important examples for local technology applications.
Cultural Diversity & Local Content
Media that are based in local communities represent the most important creator of local content and thus play an important role in the preservation and development of cultural diversity.
Media Diversity and Pluralism
Pluralism of media sources and media output is a vital factor of the information society. Community and non-profit media give voice to many societal groups underrepresented in the traditional media. They represent a vital force to preserve and develop media diversity and media pluralism.
Communication as a participatory and interactive process requires the possibility for the public to participate in the creation of knowledge and information. Community and non-profit media give low-level access to people willing to contribute knowledge and information. They represent an essential component of a truly two-way communication system.
Global Information Commons
Non-profit media give vital contributions to public knowledge and the global information commons. They serve as essential channels for the public to contribute knowledge to the public domain.
Participation and Empowerment
Community and non-profit media represent a major opportunity to enable public participation in the information society. They serve as essential factors of empowering marginalized communities.
The crucial role and grassroots context of community and non-profit media require enabling measures to support their establishment, growth and sustenance.
1. Three sectors of media
For the greatest diversity and plurality, three sectors of the media need to be recognized:
- public service
Each sector has its own distinct character, needs and uses.
The sectors apply to the traditional mass media, as well as to new, online ICT technologies.
2. Definition of community media
The definition adopted by the African Charter on Broadcasting (Windhoek + 10, 2001) for community radio can be applied to all community media; that is:
Community media are media
- which are for, by and about the community,
- whose ownership and management is representative of the community,
- which pursues a social development agenda,
- and which is non-profit.
3. Community radio
Recognition needs to be given to community radio as a particularly appropriate medium in developing countries for supporting the realization of United Nations Millennium Goals.
This is because of its relatively low costs and accessible technology, its ability to overcome barriers (such as literacy) to empowerment, its suitability for preserving and keeping alive oral cultures, and its facility in allowing disadvantaged groups to participate in ongoing dialogue both within and outside of the community.
The need to promote and support community radio has already been affirmed by the African Union Declaration on Freedom of Expression.
4. Convergence with other ICTs
The convergence of traditional community media with other ICTs needs to be actively encouraged.
Community telecentres, which combine community radio with the Internet, represent one model that is worth spreading and developing.
5. Enabling environment
The strength of community media lie in their democratic grassroots and non-profit characteristics. Measures are needed to enable community media to be maintain these characteristics and still be sustainable.
These include independent and transparent regulatory frameworks for the equitable allocation of frequencies, as well as degree of direct or indirect public funding.
Proposed additions to the draft CS contribution paper
"Priority should be given to community-driven communication initiatives, developed in response to local needs and under community control."
1. Information and communication infrastructure / 7. Promotion of development oriented ICT applications for all
"Technology systems must be appropriate to local environments if they are to effectively bridge the digital divide. Examples for both appropriate and effective use of technology are community radio, local newsletters, and other forms of community and non-profit media."
"The convergence of traditional community media with other ICTs needs to be actively encouraged, for example through community telecentres which combine community radio with the internet."
2. Access [use and creation of] to information and knowledge
"Recognition of and support for community and non-profit media as the major platform for the public to contribute to global knowledge and information."
6. Enabling Environment
"- Independent and transparent regulatory frameworks for the equitable allocation of frequencies to a plurality of media including community media
- Provide a legal basis for community and non-profit media
- Provide public funding for community media"
8. Cultural and linguistic diversity, local content and media development
"Recognise and provide a legal basis and public funding for
- media that are based in local communities, as they represent the most important creator of local content and thus play a vital role in the preservation and development of cultural diversity, and
- non-profit media , as they give voice to many societal groups underrepresented in the traditional media and thus represent a vital force to preserve and develop media diversity and media pluralism"
9. Identifying and overcoming barriers....
"Community and non-profit media should be promoted and developed as a major platform to enable public participation in the information society. They serve as essential factors of empowering marginalised communities, particularly."
10. Global Public Commons
"Non-profit media must be recognised as essential channels for the public to contribute knowledge to the public domain and the global information commons."
Statement by AMARC - World Association of Community Broadcasters
Community media provide a vital alternative, driven by social objectives rather
than private profit, bottom up rather than top down, empowering people rather
than treating them as passive consumers, nurturing local knowledge rather than
replacing it with standard solutions. Community media are committed to human
rights, social justice and sustainable approaches to development and are owned
and controlled by communities themselves.
Community radio stations, for many years, have given communities the means of
cultural expression, news and information, and local dialogue. Radio is the
most widespread electronic communications device in the world and a unique
means of reaching the world's poorest communities. Community broadcasting is
increasingly recognised as a bridge across the digital divide between those who
have access to the world's information resources and those who do not.
Given these important role of community media in fostering democracy and
encouraging local participation in the development process, community media
must be provided with sufficient financial resources whilst respecting and
preserving their independence from government and from commercial media
corporations. Revenues raised by Governments from sale of spectrum and
telecommunications licensing should be reinvested for social communications
objectives including support for community media development. International
investment in information and communication technologies for development must
consistently include support for traditional and community-based media.