Strengthening policies and funding for community media sustainability

An international seminar entitled “Community Media Sustainability: Strengthening Policies and Funding” will reunite broadcasting regulators, community and public media professionals, civil society and academic experts from more than 20 countries to innovate sustainability in the community media sector.

The seminar will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, from 14 to 15 September 2015 and promote favorable regulation, policy and funding of community radio and facilitate knowledge sharing on complementarity roles of national, community and commercial broadcasting.

An enabling legal environment that provides recognition and facilitates resources and support mechanisms is necessary for the long term sustainability of community broadcasters. They work on a non-profit basis and are tailored according to the specific needs and conditions of their respective communities. This means that favorable community radio legislation and financing have to take into account a multitude of existing business models within a given national media landscape.

A common finding is the struggle for legitimacy, financing, and professional capacity. Many community radio stations give in to influential bodies for survival or give up and move to something else. This is all the more worrying as community radio is an important vehicle for development in many regions of the world. It can improve awareness and knowledge of solutions to community problems ranging from rural development, culture, education, agriculture, hygiene and sanitation to local governance.

“Community radio can make a significant contribution to national life. It offers two-way communication within the community; [...] it is a means of education and a help in broader national development; and its benefits can be spread through broadcast technology from the locality to the regional and national level,” said Nepal’s Minister of Information and Communication, Jaya Prakash Gupta, in a speech delivered at the meeting for development of community radio in South Asia.

UNESCO’s Director of Freedom of Expression and Media Development underlines that free, pluralistic and independent media are key drivers for sustainable development,” says Guy Berger “Community radios [...] support democracy by enabling individuals to exercise their freedom of expression and right to access information.” He asserts that there is an invaluable pool of know-how and knowledge that can effectively be shared between regulators, broadcasters and wide-ranging stakeholders.

Case studies, concept papers and recommendations drawn from the seminar may be shared with parliamentarians, ministries, practitioners and the international community to facilitate partnerships, inform decision-makers and strengthen enabling environments for community radio worldwide.