Community Radio, Latin America the reference
While Latin American and sub-Saharan countries seem to have progressed with community radio stations and its role in democratization, Northern Africa countries are now beginning the struggles of the right of free expression and communication through community radio. The Director of the PANOS INSTITUTE WEST AFRICA, Ms Diana Senghor, beginning the discussion for the morning, said community radio stations in sub-Saharan Africa had played vital roles in democracy and social advocacy. That was on the second day of the 3rd World Forum of the Medias, in Tunis.
For instance in Senegal, community radio stations were helping sensitise women to their rights and how to access to them.
In Mali, also, parliamentary debates are being translated into local languages for communities to be involved, while in other communities, community radio plays a critical role in electoral processes, by sensitising people and also providing relevant information on polls and their outcome.
However, in spite of the progress, challenges still persisted.
Ms Senghor said that the issues of the independence of community radio stations, the support they need, and the experiences of facilitators of programs, had to be tackled.
In Latin America, Maria Pia Matta from Chile, who is also the President of AMARC, spoke about how community radio stations had helped Latin American countries in their liberation struggles against dictatorship governments.
Currently, though, community radio stations in Latin America, seem to be fighting a different struggle of helping save indigenous languages that are becoming extinct. By broadcasting in indigenous languages on the verge of extinction, they are virtually restoring the lives of people, she said.
The region with the most challenging relations to community radio, however, is the Magreb/Meshrek. Imane Bourjara of Ejoussour Morocco Web, a broadcast medium on the web, said an unregulated environment and restrictions on frequencies, was a major challenge.
She said the region was however making progress with region wide consultations and the preparation of a bill for the government to lessen restrictions on broad casting. Testimonies from Tunisia, Jordan, Bahrain, Palestine, Algeria, Egypt and Libya corroborated the struggles by people to freely express themselves on community radio stations.
Later in an interview Deborah Moreira of CIRANDA summed it all up by emphasising the importance of the organisation of the World Social Forum 2013 in Tunisia. For her, the struggle for community expression through community radio was a tough one that needed international support, such as offered by voices at the WSF 2013