Colombia: Community radio as actor of change

According to the 2018 Global Report “Re|shaping Cultural Policies”, watching television and listening to radio remain widespread cultural activities in both developed and developing countries. On this year’s World Radio Day, we highlight an initiative taken in Colombia identified in the UNESCO’s 2005 Convention Policy Monitoring Platform.

Ensuring media diversity is crucial for the promotion of the diversity of cultural expression. The media are enablers, producers, commissioners, distributors, disseminators and mediators of a vibrant array of cultural and artistic contents whatever the means and technologies used. Public service media is also one of the 11 areas for monitoring the implementation and impact of the Convention.

The radio is one of the industries with high potential to advance media diversity and enlarge the cultural choices of people, whether it is by highlighting local content or by providing a forum for often-unheard voices and their cultural expressions.

Community radios for peace

This initiative is jointly led by the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications and the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace, and funded by the European Union. The main goal is to contribute to the process of peace and coexistence in the country with the underlying idea of radio being a potential actor of local change.

The project, which started in 2017, centers on three actions benefiting over 450 local radio stations: training, production assistance and network strengthening. It provides a diploma after training on the relationship between culture, communication and peace. The project offers economic incentives for the local production of radio programmes, region-wide technical support as well as equipment. It also organizes a national meeting of regional networks to exchange experiences and strengthen the ties between professionals working in the radio industry.

One of the main aims of the project is to reach rural communities particularly affected by the armed conflict, which lack platforms for open debate and express their viewpoints and culture. Underlying this mission is the idea to trade weapons for words in the areas where the former took pre-eminence previously. The project also builds upon previous UNESCO-led efforts, through the IPDC, to sustain human rights through community radios and communications.

Policy monitoring platform

The Policy Monitoring Platform has been made possible with the funding from the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida). The platform provides access to policies and measures designed around the world to implement the Convention, categorized by region, country, thematic area, cultural domain, etc. Youth-related measures as well as preferential treatment measures are also highlighted. Between 2014-2018, UNESCO supported 12 countries, though the establishment of policy discussion platforms, to elaborate their quadrennial periodic reports (QPR) on the implementation of the 2005 Convention. Colombia was one of the partner countries of the Sida-funded project, “Enhancing fundamental freedoms through the diversity of cultural expressions”.

All the QPRs can be accessed here.