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 are not
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 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.

(Source: Press Release issued by CMFE)