The Maputo Conference on Community alerts on the 2015 deadline for the digital switchover
The Final Declaration (pdf) of the Conference issued here today alerts on the fact that “the 2015 deadline for the digital migration set by ITU is approaching and that little debate is taking place about how it will affect the allocation of frequencies for community broadcasting sector in particular...”
It calls on “African States and actors of civil society, to preserve national and international mechanisms that support cultural diversity and freedom of expression. This involves the principle of controlling the allocation of frequencies to private business; ensuring regulation in the public interest to guarantee cultural diversity and freedom of expression...”
The Declaration also calls on “African governments to put in place legislative and conducive regulatory frameworks which institute a three tier system with appropriate access to the frequencies for all communities including the most marginalised and to strengthen independent regulatory bodies able to guarantee the Right to Communicate and Access to Information...”
It specifically singles out the governments of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Morocco Libya and Mauritania and requests them to “establish legal provisions for licensing community broadcasting in the respective countries.”
It also recommends that the African governments and the donor community collaborate with AMARC to respond better to the needs of the community radios “ ... using the Media Development Indicators endorsed by the Inter-Governmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication…”
The Conference organized by FORCOM and AMARC AFRICA in Maputo, under the theme “Critical Reflections on Community Radios in Africa” opened in Maputo on December 3, 2012, gathered 200 community radio stakeholders, academics, representatives of civil society organizations, regulatory authorities and media support organizations from 20 African countries.