World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to tell the world about violations of press freedom, and as such, draw attention to the fact that dozens of countries around the world censor radio, fine radio stations or refuse to give licences to broadcast legally, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) has said.
In a statement on World Press Freedom Day, AMARC said “journalists and radio directors are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered”. It also hailed the fact that the organisation had scored a “huge victory” for community and associative radio after it’s request to be recognised by UNESCO was accepted. Community media collaborators have been added to the list of journalists to be protected by the UN, which proclaimed World Press Freedom Day in 1993.
AMARC brings together a network of more than 4,000 community radios, Federations and community media stakeholders in more than 130 countries. The main global impact of AMARC since its creation in 1983, has been to accompany and support the establishment of a worldwide community radio sector that has democratised the media sector.
“Those authorities have to be independent from governments private consortiums and telecoms and their existence and functioning should be guaranteed by constitutional means. It is the essential condition for pluralism and freedom of expression on the air,” said Emmanuel Boutterin, AMARC executive vice-president. “For this, only community and associative radios allow civil society organisations to access to the public realm, and this function should be recognised by the international community.”
The theme for World Press Freedom Day this year is New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies. This, said AMARC, gives voice to the “call for the freedom to install and to access to the electromagnetic spectrum for radios, in particular for associative and community radios, and a fair frequencies allocation”.
The organisation said that civil society’s radio broadcasters represent a new border of communication. “They are those who play an essential role in war zones in case of climate and natural disasters in the information and protection of populations and in rebuilding processes,” it said.
It drew attention to the power of radio in reporting on constitutional reforms in several Arab countries, and said “a unique opportunity is given to pass from a frequencies allocation dominated by corruption and seizure to a more fair and righteous access in favour of civil society media, more particularly community radios”.
“Everywhere across the globe, community radios should be able to develop and to work in a secure economical and judicial environment. Their right to broadcast should be recognized and reinforced,” said AMARC.
AMARC has called on states and governments, as well as the press and radio broadcasting regulatory authorities, to respect their commitment to press freedom and radio broadcasting. AMARC wishes to see new and stronger regulatory authorities.