The year 2014 has been quite hectic for our team, with the Chair’s involvement in research, policy advocacy, capacity building, and knowledge dissemination activities aimed to promote the cause of community media. What follows below are some of the highlights, not necessarily in chronological order.

In July 2014, the Chair organized, with the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), a pre-conference on community media as part of IAMCR 2014 in Hyderabad, India, with the participation of more than 100 delegates from around the world. On the sidelines of this event, UNESCO New Delhi supported the organization of a South Asia Roundtable, with participants from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Philippines discussing the formation of a regional network on community media. The South Asia Network for Community Media (SANCOM) would now be launched in the new year as a virtual network for information-sharing and regional solidarity.

The work on the Community Radio Continuous Improvement Toolkit (CRCIT) initiated in 2012, in collaboration with Commonwealth Educational Media Centre in Asia (CEMCA), continued this past year, resulting in the production of Version 2.0 of the toolkit with the inclusion of a new section on self-assessment and peer review methodology. This revised version came about after rigorous field testing in four different stations in India and with three others in Bangladesh. The Chair also trained during October and November representatives of about 30 community radio stations in India to become peer reviewers. It is indeed gratifying that the toolkit, also available in Hindi, is now being widely used by community radio stations in India in the peer review process of the Ministry of I&B of Government of India. A Bengali version is being readied for use by the community radio sector in Bangladesh, with the active cooperation of the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communications (BNNRC). We have received appreciation and expressions of interest to adapt and use CRCIT from other parts of the world.

The Chair’s capacity-building portfolio got a big boost this year with the starting of a new project under the broad umbrella of Children as Media Producers (CAMP) in the central Indian state of Chattisgarh. Supported by UNICEF, the Adolescent Engagement Using Media Tools (AEMT) initiative is under way with the ongoing training about 25 underprivileged children. Members of our team have also been invited to be part of the peer review workshops organized by the Ministry of I&B and the Community Radio Association of India (CRAI).

The Chair team continued to be active on various national and international platforms, not only engaging with state entities on policy issues, but also presenting our work in international conferences and interacting with community media advocates and practitioners around the world through visits and meetings. Some of the significant events in which our team played a role include: national and regional Sammelans of CRSs organized by the Ministry of I&B, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) consultation on policy matters, the AMARC/SAARC Information Centre Seminar in Dhaka on status of CR in the region, panel discussions about the ban on the broadcast of news over CR, session on community media in Europe and the World at the Media Conference of Central Germany, and the World Summit on Media for Children at Kuala Lumpur. Prof. Vinod Pavarala, the UNESCO Chair, also had the unique opportunity to visit several free radio stations in the cities of Halle, Nuremberg, Weimar, Erfurt, and Hamburg, in Germany on the invitation of Radio Corax and the Association of Free Radios.

Dissemination of knowledge produced by and about the Chair has been quite intense through our website and the setting up of a new Community of Practice platform called CRux (Community Radio User Experience) for community radio practitioners. CR News continues to serve as a pre-eminent publication that tracks community radio in India and elsewhere in South Asia. In terms of individual publications, apart from CRCIT mentioned above, our team members have published articles related to community radio in Media Asia, Himal South Asia, The Hindu, and The Hoot.

Much of this could be achieved through your support, cooperation, and encouragement to our activities.  We look forward to your continued solidarity in 2015 and hope to live up to the enormous trust you have reposed in the UNESCO Chair on Community Media.

Once again, wish you all a great year ahead!

Warm regards,

Vinod Pavarala
Kanchan K. Malik
Vasuki Belavadi