04 / 1996
A workshop on Community Media in Eastern and Southern Africa, held in Nairobi, Kenya last November brought together a wide range of media practitioners and development-oriented NGO workers from 18 different countries. In order to promote the opening up of the airwaves and to formulate strategies for raising awareness about community media as key agents for development and social change, workshop delegates identified what the needs were and agreed to a regional action plan. The Nairobi Declaration was also drawn up and a new organisation called the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET)was formed.
For Community media to develop, several requirements were singled out by the participants: a comprehensive and conducive legislative and policy environment to ensure community radio stations are licensed and allowed to operate unhindered; an awareness about and for media and development; media research using a participatory methodology; training to develop skills and resources for community media; funding from both traditional and alternatives sources; international support for community media in the region; and appropriate, adaptable and affordable equipment which draws on and strengthens African technological development.
The Action Plan addressed each of these requirements including training, fundraising, networking and raising awareness. The following two areas focused on the need for legislative change.
Support for national lobbying initiatives:
-as the broadcasting sector in some countries in the region is still monopolized by the state, the aim is to lobby for changes in any legislation either specifically or implicitly disallowing independent broadcasting, whether commercial or community in nature
-as a variety of state policies on regulatory bodies for the broadcasting sector, on frequency allocation, on import taxes on relevant equipment, etc. can work to impede independent broadcasting, the aim is also to lobby for changes in these policies
-as the lobbying processes will be non-confrontational, the starting point will be to convene national networks of stakeholders which will include media practitioners, those wishing to begin independent broadcasting initiatives, state representatives, opposition representatives, representatives of civil society, NGOs working in media for development, etc.
-the national networks will determine and present alternatives to the broadcasting sector models in their countries, identifying relevant legislation and policies which currently impede the growth of independent broadcasters
-the national networks will be present during any relevant discussions to ensure the continual promotion of independent broadcasting, and specifically, of community broadcasting
-the research and lobbying will be initiated and occur primarily but not exclusively at the national level. The national networks will be able to draw on the sub-regional network, continental and international organizations for support.
-into the specific legislative and policy environment of countries in the sub-region where independent broadcasting has yet to be developed so as to present alternative broadcasting sector models
- into potential sources and costs of necessary technology and equipment, including maintenance costs and means of cost-sharing at a sub-regional level, with the goal of promoting and utilizing local technologies whenever possible
-into participatory methodology for media which will draw on and utilize local and traditional knowledge systems
-into participatory audience research methods
-to document and disseminate sub-regional and continental experiences in community media.
The following organisations will share the responsibilities of implementing the Action Plan: EcoNews Africa (Kenya), PANOS Institute (Senegal), Inter Presse Service (Zimbabwe), Media Institute of Southern Africa (Namibia), National Community Radio Forum (South Africa), World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (East and Southern Africa and Europe), African Council for Communication Education (Continental Body and Kenya Chapter).
Translated into French.
Articles and files
Videazimut, Designing a Legal Framework in. Clips, 1996 (Canada), 10
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