January 25, 2005

NEWS: Community Radio Broadcasters Gathered in the Philippines

Community Radio Broadcasters Gathered in the Philippines
24-01-2005 (UNESCO New Delhi)

"Radio cannot be replaced as the main media tool for development," said Florangel Rosario Braid in her opening address at a National Convention on Community Radio held in the Philippines between January 17 and 23. Ms Braid is reputed journalist, communication scholar and the Chair of the Communication Committee of the UNESCO National Commission for the Philippines.

"Where the Tambuli and other community radios are functioning, they have been instrumental in supporting local development programmes in remote areas. They are the voice of the people," Ms Braid continued, crediting the support of UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication. "You have shown that community radio is sustainable. To create impact we must make linkages."

Some thirty-five community radio broadcasters and advocates came together for six days of discussions and practical workshops on the convention's theme of ?Emerging Roles of Community Radio in Bridging Informational, Educational and Technological Divides?.

There are now over forty-five community radios in the Philippines working for local development, community empowerment and issues like environmental protection. Since the early 1990s the Tambuli Foundation has facilitated the establishment of twenty-one stations. Tambuli was awarded UNESCO's Prize for Rural Communication in 1996.

Since 2000, Notre Dame Foundation has been working in Mindanao region in the south of the country assisting thirteen communities to date to start their own radios with a special focus on gender and peace. Another fourteen community stations have been started in different areas of the country with the support of UNICEF with a strong focus on promoting the rights of children.

The National Convention was organized by the Tambuli Foundation in association with the University of the Philippines and Pampanga Agricultural College and UNESCO.

"This is the first meeting bringing together radios from all the three networks," explained Louie Tabing, Tambuli's director and one of Asia's leading community radio specialists. "The idea is to get people together, forge collaboration among all the radios and address the need to advance to new opportunities, particularly in educational field and how community radio can take advantage of new technologies."

The convention will lead to the creation of new models to run educational content on community radios and to the establishment of community multimedia centres in the Philippines. Community multimedia centres combine traditional media like community radio with new information and communication technologies such as computers, internet and mobile telephony.

Through UNESCO's global programme on community multimedia centres, CMCs have been established in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as in Africa and the Caribbean.

(By Ian Pringle)
Chris Schuepp
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