European Parliament: AMARC affirms its commitment for media pluralism and a fair access to the analog as well as digital spectrum

Montreal, May 23rd, 2012. On AMARC Europe initiative, more than 30 representatives of the community radio sector gathered the 8th and 9th of May in Brussels in order to discuss and the radio digitalization switch over. All the most important national federations and associations, confederations of community radios at the European level attended the meeting. Representatives from Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, UK, France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Basque Country have met the Members of the European Parliament in order to move forward in the political lobby process to guarantee an equitable switch over for the community radio sector. For more information, click here.

AMARC International Executive Committee was represented by Emmanuel Boutterin, deputy vice-president, who debated in public audience with several members of Parliament, among which Marie-Christine Vergiat, coordinator of the French Delegation of the Left Front/ Overseas Alliance. AMARC vice-president welcomed the presence and the contribution of the European Association of Local Commercial Radios, a "first" in an official meeting organized by community radios.  

Recognising that community radio is now a major part of the broadcasting landscape which engages and reaches many millions of people across Europe and that these media are an essential contributor to freedom of expression and access to information, the representatives of the community radio sector within Europe called the European Union and its Member States:

•    To take account of  the community radio sector in all relevant European policies including those relating to media pluralism, information and communication technologies, the digital dividend, and cultural, social and economic affairs.
•    To provide specific legal and regulatory conditions that foster the development of the community radio sector in analogue and digital environments.
•    To ensure the equitable allocation of broadcasting spectrum between public service, commercial and community broadcasting services on analogue and digital platforms.
•    To establish measures to provide public financial support to the sector including to assist community radio services that seek to adapt to digital platforms.
•    To ensure that digital broadcasting technologies and laws allow community radios the right to both own and operate their own transmission systems.
•    To ensure that the representative organizations of the community broadcasting sector at the European level and in each Member State are systematically consulted on all relevant matters of European and Member State policy.

Emmanuel Boutterin declared that “the disparity in the situation of associative and community radio in Europe is significant: the harmonization of European policies is quick when it comes to authorize profit-making commercial radios, and sometimes big denominational radios, but States are still very restrictive in regards to freedom of expression and media pluralism. Still a few States put on an equal footing community radios and commercial radios: too little frequencies, restriction to the emission power and no public funding. Nevertheless, local radios fulfill a public service function on their territory. A task that no other media is carrying out”, he added.

The meeting represents a milestone towards a European political lobby for the digitalization switch over in Europe, and Parliamentarians engaged their political groups to establish a road map, cooperation and strong linkages with the community radio movement.

AMARC vice-president remind to the people presents that audiovisual media on Internet cannot replace local radios broadcasting by terrestrial mean: “bandwidth of audio quality is very expensive for editors as well as listeners and the providers profiled the listener without any guarantee of anonymity” he said. “Portable radio is of bad audio quality, even with the 4G. It is imperative that the European Parliament advise the States to insure to assure that local community radios have their place on the spectrum, in AM, in FM in III and L bands and contribute financially to their functioning, as in the Netherlands, Ireland and in France.” Emmanuel Boutterin reiterates AMARC’s commitment on the side of local radios in Hungary, Poland and East European countries.

Through service to members, networking and project implementation, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (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 democratized the media sector. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighbourhood levels and defends and promotes the interests of the community radio movement through solidarity, networking and cooperation.

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