Dear AMARC Europe members, colleagues and friends,

In a few days we will celebrate the World Radio Day 2020. This year’s World Radio Day topic is “We are DIVERSITY. We are RADIO”.

The UNESCO argues in this year’s topic rational that “radio is a powerful medium for celebrating humanity in all its diversity and constitutes a platform for democratic discourse. At the global level, radio remains the most widely consumed medium. This unique ability to reach out the widest audience means radio can shape a society’s experience of diversity, stand as an arena for all voices to speak out, be represented and heard. Radio stations should serve diverse communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content, and reflect the diversity of audiences in their organizations and operations.”

Diversity is a claim AMARC Europe as the biggest representative of the European community radio sector is pursuing in its long history. In the AMARC Europe charter, which was adopted in 1994 in Ljubljana, the emphasis was put on the “… diversity of forms of community radio; … provide a right of access to minority and marginalised groups and promote and protect cultural and linguistic diversity; … inform their listeners on the basis of information drawn from a diversity of sources …”

Press freedom, access to information, critical reflection of media content and a diversity of media outlets are the key stones for a dynamic democracy, however, nowadays independent, local and community-oriented journalism is more and more exposed to political and economic threats and pressure. In this context, community media remain crucial actors and articulation platforms to ensure the participation of diverse communities in public discussion, provide access to local information and give a voice to underrepresented communities. The World Radio Day is one opportunity to showcase these potentials of community media in the current context.

The importance of the community media sector in the current European political environment to promote diversity has been acknowledged in the findings and the appreciations the community media sector has received as an integral part of vital democracies on European and international level.

The Council of Europe recommendation from 2018 on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership sees that the current content shift to the internet as a possible threat to independence of media houses and diversity and quality of productions. However, the Council of Europe also mentions that “…not-for-profit community media can serve as a counterbalance to increased media concentration. By virtue of their remit and organisation, public service media are particularly suited to address the informational needs and interests of all sections of society, as is true of community media in respect of their constituent users. It is of utmost importance that the mandates of public service media include the responsibility to reflect political pluralism and foster awareness of diverse opinions, notably by providing different groups in society – including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious, sexual or other minorities – with an opportunity to receive and impart information, to express themselves and to exchange ideas.”

The European Parliament states on the role of community media in the European Union in its resolution on media pluralism and freedom (2017/2209(INI)) from 2018 that “… community media and grassroots media, [which] are crucial elements of a favourable environment for guaranteeing the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information”.

AMARC Europe is looking forward to the various events and ways the community media sector in Europe and beyond will celebrate the World Radio Day 2020 and thereby emphasizes the crucial role community radios play in promoting diversity, democratic participation and social cohesion in our societies.

The AMARC Europe team wishes our members in Europe and our colleagues and friends around the World a happy World Radio Day 2020!
Contact for further inquiries

Alexander Vojvoda
Project Co-ordinator AMARC Europe

In our last newsletter we reported on the decision of the Hungarian Media Council to not re-issue the licence for the Community Radio Civil Radio in Budapest. Find here the full statement of Civil Radio on the decision of the Media Council.

Civil Radio will challenge the decision! Read here the new statement on the next steps:

We take our case to the court”
Civil Radio has never been one of the leading media. Rather, its importance and significance have been achieved by speaking about those who have been rarely broadcast by other media. We are producing programmes for and with those who have not been given the opportunity elsewhere. It is painful for us to see a poorer media space without our broadcast in the air.
Our voice stays, and we do not want to remain silent. We will not give up the possibility to broadcast at a frequency. After December 21, 2019, our programs will continue to be heard on the Internet. We do our best to preserve the uniqueness of our sound and develop the surfaces through which our listeners can surely reach us.
We will not reconcile ourselves to the decision of the Media Council. We file a lawsuit to prove in the court that, although the decision was lawfully made , it is still disproportionate and unfair. The first phase of the legal proceedings does not promise a quick outcome, withdrawal of the decision seems illusory. However, in a longer process, we will point out that the current biased media regulation makes our voice weak and prevents us from the practice of an objective approach. We will give evidence that a more balanced and fair media law can bring a freer country, more truthful information for the public.
Legal representation of Civil Radio is provided by The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) with the professional cooperation of Mertek Media Monitor.
We trust that Civil Radio will have frequency, and in the meantime we will continue to broadcast with fresh content and new shows:
We sincerely thank all those who help, support Civil Radio, who are with us, listen to us. Stay with us!
Civil Radio

Last week the Budapest based community radio CIVIL RÁDIÓ – FM 98 received the negative decision of the Hungarian Media Council on their re-application for their broadcasting licence.

In a first statement Civil Radio reacts to the decision of the Media Council with the words .

“Our voice is the same, and we do not want to be silenced. We will be expelled to the internet, but we will not give up the possibility to broadcast also in the air. After December 21, 2019, our programmes can be listened to solely online. We do our best to preserve the uniqueness of our sound and develop the media platforms, through which our listeners can surely reach us.Communique_Civil RadioDownload

Due to the resolution of the Media Council the last time Civil Radio will be heard on the frequency 98.0 MHz in Budapest is December 21, 2019. Their decision was made on the basis of minor malfunctions of the radio, without taking into consideration the spirit and values represented by our radio. This action in an already shrinking independent media space is particularly painful.”

End of August the bavarian Community Radios formed the Verband Community Media Bayern (VCMB ) to better represent the concept of Community Media in public. For this representatives of Radio Z from Nuremberg, LORA from Munich and Radio Free FM of Ulm and Neu Ulm, all organized in the Bundesverband Freier Radios (BFR), met at LORA in Munich. These radio stations are organized by volunteers who want to add their perception of life to the public discourse as a way to make it more diverse and inclusive.

AMARC joined the 6th Conference of the Radio Research Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA), which was held in the lovely setting of the University of Siena (Italy), on September 19-21.

Several interesting keynote speeches and pieces of research have been presented, highlighting the variety and vivacity of the radio sector across and beyond Europe. The first keynote speech was held by David Fernandez Quijada, Manager of the Media Intelligence Service, the market research unit of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). He provided some interesting data about the situation of radio in Europe. In the EBU area, there are more than 12 thousand radio stations. Around the 90% of this group is composed by analogue FM stations, and the digital ones are, at the moment, just about 15 hundred (a significant majority of them are DAB+ stations). Most of the European stations are national, with only 120 international cases.

Passing to the radio consumption habits, Fernandez Quijada stated that in 2018, European citizens listened to the radio, on average, 2 hours and 22 minutes per day: these are 4 minutes less than the previous year and 14 minutes less than 5 years before (2013). People are still using this media, but the time spent on it has been decreasing. This trend is also more evident among the European youth: in 2018 they listened, on average, 1 hour and 26 minutes per day of radio: 5 minutes less than the previous year and 20 minutes less than 5 years ago. The European citizens reached weekly by radio are still a big group, the 84% (which corresponds to 420 million listeners), but also, in this case, there is a reduction (-1.7%) compared to 2013.

It is interesting to know that radio is considered the most trusted medium in the majority of the European countries, with the difference of Hungary, Serbia and Greece that put the Internet at the first place, while Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey chose the television.

Additionally, AMARC Europe presented a paper together with other partners in the context of the Grassroots Radio project. The paper, titled “Fostering Community Radio: the Grassroots Radio project”, discusses the activities and challenges of co-designing community radios in rural areas.