AMARC Europe is proud to announce the beginning of a new project supported by UNESCO, “ Fostering digital communication rights for community media”.

In continuation with its strategic global perspective, AMARC wishes to fulfil its role promoting participatory democracy and active citizenship through the defence and advancement of community media.

In order to turn this aspiration into action, AMARC is strengthening its involvement in the promotion of the right to communicate in the digital sphere and in particular in relation to digital terrestrial broadcasting, transition and use of digital distribution methods, in line with UNESCO Community Media Sustainability Policy Papers, adopted in 2016.

This project will extend and reactivate the debates raised since few years in the domain of digital communication rights in several, regions covered by AMARC members.

ICTs and mobile telephony are opening up new frontiers for community broadcasters. For example, the mobile telephone, when used on its own provides person-to-person information and communication possibilities. However, when we combine it with a community radio station, it becomes a dynamic “collective” communication tool. In this way, mobile telephones can help to empower marginalized communities to become active participants in community dialogue, each contributing his or her own experiences and ideas.

In the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting (DAB +), and in line with UNESCO community media sustainability policy papers “.. A key issue is ensuring that community broadcasters have access to the same ‘equitable’ portion of the frequency spectrum that they had in the analogue world. However, transmission works in fundamentally different ways in the digital environment, at least with most modern technologies, and this requires more carefully tailored regulatory approaches”.

Three aspects will be considered:

  1. Reserving spectrum
  2. Mitigating costs of the shift from analogue to digital broadcasting
  3. Approaching the wider challenges of convergence

The general objective of this project is to raise the number of countries that have strengthened policies for adequate and tailored audio-visual regulation in the digital broadcasting sphere in favour of community media. At the end of the project, at least 5 countries will have taken steps to strengthen those policies.

Beyond European borders, AMARC Europe has already indentified some possible countries where to concentrate the efforts. In the Asian Region, Bangladesh and its BNNRC will partner the initiative, as well as URAC in Senegal and the Community Media Network in Jordan. More countries will be involved in Central and Latin America.

Promoting national legal standards or recommendations for Audiovisual Regulatory Authorities and other policy-makers affecting community media remains an outstanding challenge. We are ready for it. Together we are stronger.