Community Media Sustainability: UNESCO’s Policy Series targeting broadcasting regulators

posted on 29 August, 2017   (public)

Community Media Sustainability: UNESCO’s Policy Series targeting broadcasting regulators

The recently launched UNESCO Community Media Sustainability Policy Series has been created to assist media regulators and government institutions to provide a regulatory environment that recognises the value of community media and supports its long-term sustainability.

This series of policy recommendations, very detailed and comprehensive, are formulated around the following main issues:

  • Definition: community broadcasters are generally independent, not-for-profit and governed by the communities they serve. They form an important “third pillar” of a healthy pluralistic media sector, alongside commercial and public broadcasters. Having a clear understanding of what is covered by the term ‘community broadcaster’ is not always obvious, due to the huge variety of ‘on-the-ground’ situations around the world.
  • Formal Recognition: formal recognition of community broadcasting in the national legislative framework helps guarantee the right to freedom of expression, ensure diversity and pluralism and promote the overall development of the sector. Beyond simple recognition, better practice is to ensure that community broadcasters benefit from all of the legal rights and privileges that apply to other media outlets.
  • Licensing Systems: special licensing systems should be put in place by taking into account the special needs of community broadcasters
  • Reserving Spectrum: policy and regulations should be able to reserve a minimum percentage of the available spectrum for community radios. Community broadcasters should also have the right to distribute their content freely over the Internet.
  • Public Funding : the availability of direct public funding, access to funding from foreign sources, and indirect funding are three key policy questions for community broadcasters.
  • Access to Private Sources of Funding: obtaining commercial sources of revenue, such as advertising and/or sponsorship, and the access to public advertising are important issues at stake. Finally, the community itself should be an important source of support in different ways.
  • Digital Transition: As one of the main challenges with the switchover is the additional costs it imposes on broadcasters, how to adapt financial and funding rules and approaches so as to ensure that community broadcasters are still able to operate in the new environment is a crucial question. 

Developed in conjunction with the Centre for Law and Democracy, the project builds upon the recommendations formulated during the UNESCO event on Community Media Sustainability: Strengthening Policies and Funding, held in September 2015, which provided a knowledge exchange platform aimed to strengthen community media.

For further details on the project, please contact Tim Francis, Associate Programme Specialist:

Community media is an issue which has been on EPRA's agenda on several occasions. A noteworthy document of the network is the comparative report on Local and Community Media released following a Working Group held in 2013.

Source: UNESCO Website