CMFE Looks Back on a Successful Conference and General Assembly

Brno ´13  Media Diversity for Democracy 4-6 October, 2013

Find some impressions at the website and in our Storify timeline

Community media activists, academics and policy makers from 26 European countries met in Brno at the CMFE Annual Conference to discuss the role of community radio and community television as agents for change in democracies. The state of community media in CEE countries was a central focus, together with recent developments in the community TV sector and special panels on participation in the media, gender equality policies and Community TV youth initiatives. Legislation and technological developments (including open source initiatives) formed another core of content.

Keynote speaker Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair for Community Media at Hyderabad University, remarked in the opening plenary that “Community Media arenot only about content delivery, but also about local participation and citizen interaction. Governments need to recognize community media as a distinct media sector and provide funding and equal access to the different distribution platforms.”

Guest speaker Bissera Zankova, Member of the Bureau of the Council of Europe Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI), supported the idea of Community Media as a vital element of democratic societies: “Community Media fill the gap left by public service and private media, and work for cohesion, tolerance and trust. Policy for gender rights is policy for human rights and community media have a central role to play in the implementation of the recently adopted Council of Europe Recommendation on gender equality and media.”

During the conference the results of the worldwide Community Media Mapping and Rating Project were presented. According to the CMFE 2012 mapping a total of 2237 community radio stations and 521 community television stations are active across Europe and 29 European countries were rated according to their development of community media. Correlations between democratic structures and the status of Community Media can be seen in this first attempt to count community radio and TV stations not only in Europe but also in the world.

Despite the recognition of the role and value of community media in the expression of pluralism and social diversity in the media sphere, many European states still have not met the recommendations and resolutions of European and international institutions on community broadcasting. In particular, access for community media still has to be guaranteed on all available broadcasting platforms, ensuring that the shift from analogue to digital technologies becomes an opportunity for more media pluralism rather than for further media concentration.

In conjunction with CMFE’s Conference, AMARC Europe held its Second Forum “Changing the communication environment: Networking for Community Radio in Central and Eastern Europe”. Community radio broadcasters and academics from across Europe met to develop strategies to strengthen community radio across the region, as well as alliances and long term strategies for the enhancement of the sector in Central and Eastern European countries.

The joint conference and close exchange with AMARC Europe at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Masaryk University is an important step towards reinforced cooperation for a common European perspective on Community Media in a global media sphere.

CMFE also held its Annual General Assembly on Oct. 4th. The new members elected to the CMFE board  (picture below) are Urszula Doliwa from Poland, Judith Purkarthofer from Austria and Gergely Gosztonyi from Hungary.

The CMFE Conference was funded by the EU under the Europe for Citizens Programme 2013 and has  been kindly hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences of Masaryk University and by the INGO RadioExpert.