The Emergence of low-power radio in Argentina
10 / 1993
PROJECT SUMMARY: Small FM radio stations began to crop up all over Argentina in 1986. They were often started by small groups of people who wanted to democratize communications and give a voice to all of those who had been silenced by years of military dictatorship (a democratic system was installed in Argentina in 1983). There are now over 2,000 of them. The stations were neither legal nor illegal. They operated in a regulatory vacuum that existed because of the lack of any broadcast legislation covering the FM band. The stations are considered a threat by the mainstream private communications industry, and there were several efforts to pressure the government to shut them down. While there is still no satisfactory legislation for low power stations, government intimidation of the stations decreased following a 1991 elections campaign during which politicians found them invaluable for reaching the electorate. Set up in 1988, FM Sur (South FM)is one of these stations. It was set up by various groups, including professional broadcasters who wanted to use their skills to help the community and CEOPAL (Popular Communication and Legal Counselling Centre).
ENVIRONMENT: FM Sur is located in Villa el Libertador, a poor neighbourhood of more than 50 000 in Cordoba, Argentina’s second largest city. Prior to the introduction of local FM stations, only two commercial stations could be heard in the neighbourhood.
OBJECTIVES: FM Sur was to be a radio station which would become part of the daily lives of the population. They wanted it to develop a political education strategy, answer to popular tastes while offering alternatives, and create a space in which people could express themselves on local as well as national issues. They also wanted the station to be participatory in nature. This required them to have a thorough training programme which would give volunteer community members the skills and confidence they needed in order to produce their own programmes.
METHODS: Popular training methods: The station uses theatre workshops that provide the skills necessary for production of radio sociodramas, communication workshops in schools, and training for correspondents from community organizations or from other neighbourhoods. There is a club of the stations’ most active listeners called "Friends of FM Sur Club" where members discuss the station and organize events using the radio station. The concept of participation has changed in the station over time. Initially, the organizers tried to completely open up the mikes to the popular sectors. Then they decided that to have more listeners they had to improve the quality of their programming. They emphasised content and radio skills so as to produce high quality programs. Finally, however, they realized that technical perfection were not what would make people feel like a part of the station. Rather, the people needed to have something that would relate to their daily lives. Now they define popular communication as "a series of practices in which new communications actors--workers, peasants, the unemployed, women in all kinds of occupations, indigenous people, jacks of all trades, illiterate people, all the residents of the shanty towns--become visible to themselves and to society in a way which is as distinct and significant as their own lives and cultures and the social movements that they create and which represent them."
EVALUATION: It is uncertain how many people listen to FM Sur. However, the station receives over 500 messages per day. Further, on the third anniversary of the radio station, over 1,500 people came to the birthday party of the station.
There exists a French and a Spanish version of this book. This card has been written from the chapter 19.
BREGAGLIO, Arthuro E.; TAGLE, Serge, AMARC=ASSOCIATION MONDIALE DES RADIODIFFUSEURS COMMUNAUTAIRES, BLACK ROSE BOOKS, 1992 (CANADA)