January 20, 2013, Kathmandu. Community broadcasters and community media advocates of South Asia have called for legislative reform and equitable distribution of spectrum for the growth of community radio along with frequency reservation for community radios in the sub-region. These and other recommendations were articulated at the South Asian Seminar on Community Broadcasting - Voices for Change and Peace: Taking Stock of Community Radio in South Asia, held from 17-18 January 2013 in New Delhi, India.
The seminar has issued a number of recommendations including not limiting community broadcasting to any one band in the spectrum or any one technology platform and de-licensing of low power community broadcasting. Addressing sustainability of community radios at grassroots, the seminar has recommended setting up of community radio fund and bridging of resources at regional levels including through existing platforms such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC. In view of the capacity building of the sector, the seminar recommended developing of training consortia and sharing of training capacities in the region while ensuring equitable benefit to women and the marginalized.
The seminar was organized by the Asia Pacific Chapter of World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC, in partnership with the UNESCO Chair on Community Media, Community Radio Forum of India and Indian Academy for Self Employed Women, and was supported by UNESCO and International Media Support. It was attended by community radio broadcasting leaders, community media advocates, policy makers, representatives of civil society groups, academics, and media activists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The seminar addressed concerns emanating from the community radio sector such as restrictive policy frameworks, inadequate allocation of spectrum for communities, and the lack of a sustainable support system as well as democratization of media spaces in South Asia. Discussions in the seminar also focused on apprehensions over security arising out of the activities of a variety of non-state actors in South Asia leading to a somewhat hesitant opening up of airwaves in certain areas. The seminar took stock of South Asian experiences with community radio, including the strong potential of the medium for social change and promotion of peace in the region. Key note speeches and presentations by participants of the seminar along with photographs will be available shortly at http://ap.amarc.org/node/53.
Through service to its members, networking and project implementation, the World Association of Community Radios (AMARC) brings together more than 4 000 community radios, federations and community radio partners in more than 130 countries. The main impact of AMARC since its foundation in 1983 has been to accompany and support the establishment of a global community radio sector. AMARC does lobbying and advocacy for the right to communication internationally, nationally and at the local and neighborhood levels, and defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through solidarity, networking and cooperation. For more information, please contact Suman Basnet, Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://ap.amarc.org.