AMARC International Board meet in Paris

Paris, 10 December 2015. The new AMARC International Board met in Paris to initiate the process for strategic planning towards the implementation of the strategic plan voted by the General Assembly in Ghana in August 2014. The meeting took place in the UNESCO headquarters, in central Paris.

In attendance were Min Shahi (Nepal) Executive Vice President, Palmira Velasco (Mozambique) Treasurer, Vice Presidents of Regions; for Africa Karamoko Bamba (Côte d’Ivoire); for Asia-Pacific: Ram Bhat (India); for Europe: Soledad Galiana; the Vice-President of the “Women’s International Network of AMARC” Adeline Nsimire Balika (Democratic Republic of Congo), and the following Vice Presidents: Marie-Guyrlène Justin (Haiti), Yengwayo Kutta (South African Republic), Damian Loreti (Argentina), and Sophie Toupin (Canada), and former president and coordinator of the Legislative Programme, Maria Pia Matta; regional Asia-Pacific coordinator, Suman Basnet and AMARC Secretary General, Francesco Diasio.

AMARC International president, Emmanuel Boutterin highlighted how this was the first opportunity of the new board to meet face to face and create the synergies among the different AMARC regions to work together on behalf of the members.

Mirta Lourenco, UNESCO Chief of Section, Communication and Information Sector, welcomed the Board members. Lourenco works with media pluralism and they work in five axis: gender equality in media at all levels, from content to working procedures; education and media training, including new technologies; World Radio Day (AMARC is part of the committee that organises that day); Youth participation in radio, a sector clearly underrepresented in media; and production of independent media content.

“For UNESCO, AMARC is very important, as it brings together radios that work in the community, and UNESCO will promote among world governments the existence of community radios. We want to work very closely with AMARC. We want to work closely to create a very strong AMARC,” stated Lourenco.

Digitalisation in Europe: DAB + perspective

Jean-Marc Dubreuil, programme manager France, World DMB, presented the work of his organisation to the International Board. It is planned a similar presentation by the representative of the DMR standard in the the future.

Dubreuil explained that, due to a full spectrum in FM in some countries, there was a need for digitalisation. In UK, Norway, Switzerland and Denmark, there is a high number of listeners of digital radio listeners. Switzerland and Norway have decided to switch off FM (2017 and 2020 respectively). Now in Germany, Netherlands and Italy there have been an increment in the number of digital listeners as the number of digital broadcasters have increased. In Italy, 70% of the population can now receive digital radio. The Netherlands decided to initiate digitalisation in 2013, and integrate all media sectors in the platforms. Some other European countries, such as France, Belgium and Poland have been considering digital radio. In France, they are now in the move to cover 93% of the population with DAB+, starting with regional and local services. The Flemish public broadcaster is already broadcasting in DAB+ in Belgium, and the French speaking public broadcast will start next year. The Polish regulator has decided to postpone digitalisation.

There is an issue with DRM+ due to the limited number of receivers for (DRM30) or not at all for DRM+. This is a problem for this standard, and if they don’t ensure that there in UK, Switzerland and Poland they are experimenting with small scale DAB+, which will require a initial capital investment of 80,000 euros for the transmitter.

According to Dubreuil, DAB offers more choice, better reception and new features to the listeners, while for broadcasters it brings innovation, better targeting of listeners and being cost-efficient, and a social level, it is a greener distribution, greater plurality and driver safety and security. Phone networks cannot sustain high volume of users, that digital broadcasting can. He also pointed out that for digitalisation to be successful, you need to have good content and coverage, to ensure devices are accessible and cheap (including cars). In France, there have been this kind of communication. Dubreuil considers that DAB is the core future platform for radio, mostly because it is the standard being introduced by European governments.

Freedom of Expression and Journalists safety

Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for the Communication and Information Sector (CI) of UNESCO, made a presentation on the Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety which UNESCO has been running for the last 30 years.

UNESCO is involved in investigations in different parts of the world contacting stakeholders and governments. Karamoko Bamba highlighted how in West Africa, specially in Mali and Ivory Coasts, many journalists have been murdered. Sylvie Coudray highlighted that the issue of impunity is key, as it is a fact that there is no proper investigation and consequently no punishment, it doesn’t help when it comes to guaranty the safety of journalists. There would be a meeting in February dealing with safety of journalists and on impunity. AMARC will be represented and the meeting and will focus on how to provide tools for security and against impunity against journalists and media, by sharing best practice experience, engagement with governments, and exploring new mechanisms to ensure journalists’ safety.

World Radio Day 2016

Jean-Francois Riffaud, Campaign coordinator for World Radio Day, spoke about the preparations towards World Radio Day (13 February 2016). This year, the focus will be “Radio in Emergency and Disaster Situations” and will look into five specific situations:

  • Freedom of expression (a disaster or emergency situation shouldn’t be a excuse to curtail freedom of expression)
  • Radio empower survivors and vulnerable people, whose right to privacy is to be respected. This is why UNESCO defends community radios, as they are the voice of vulnerable people.
  • Radio saves lives. Radio prepares people to respond to catastrophes and helps them to rebuild their lives after a disaster.
  • Immediate accessibility of radio frequencies is essential to saving lives. There are emergency frequencies that are reserved for these kind of situations, but are not respected by some radio operators.

UNESCO has already created a media campaign and it is preparing materials to highlight the five message, as they work in both visibility and content issues. They are preparing short interviews, documentaries, elements and stories to build programmes and jingles to promote Radio World Day. The website will be launched on 11 December 2016, where participants will be able to register: radioworldday.org 

UNESCO will be creating 12 hours of programming that they will be broadcasting on 13 December. These are been produced by different public an commercial stations. It is possible to collaborate with this broadcast by contacting the Radio World Day organisers.

Source: AMARC Europe

Picture: AMARC Europe