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May 2020 Newsletter

Without Press Freedom

no Community Media!

Journalists in the line of duty. Photo credits: left - UNESCO/©Thomas Hawk; right - UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

May has since the formulation of the Windhoek Declaration in 1991 and the 1993 UN proclamation of May 3 as the ‘World Press Freedom Day’, been the month of press freedom.

This year, we are finding ourselves in a further intensified battle between the truth and all the lies and distorsions. Some now refer to the wave of misinformation that has accompanied the coronavirus as a “disinfodemic” with harmful health advice and wild conspiracy theories. And as António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, says: “The press provides the antidote: verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.”

At this crucial moment, independent and community media are facing an unprecedented existential challenge. The increase in incitement and intimidation against targeted news outlets especially via digital channels and against women journalists and artists, has been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The disinformation and misinformation has led many governments to repress critical voices and free media under cover of stemming up against disruptive information.

For this reason, CMFE has joined hands with more than 150 journalism support, media development, and press freedom organisations and networks and launched an urgent appeal to all those in a position to support journalism organisations and independent media. See more below.

We below report on community media associations in the UK and Austria, who have successfully managed to receive Government emergency grants to rescue the impending closure of community media under threat by among others dramatically lowered advertising revenues. We would love to hear about this situation from other national associations or their friends!

Just before 'going to press' we learn from AMARC-Europe about the fascist attack on Radio d'ici in France!!! Appalled, we condemn this with AMARC and all other progressive forces! Read more!

We also this month share information of relevance to community media in our three thematic, strategic goal areas: “Strengthening the enabling environment", "Visibility of Community Media" and "Action and Cooperation for Change". Furthermore, we this month profile our UK member: the Community Media Association. In our Classifieds section, we present new publications for inspiration, relevant calls and upcoming events. Enjoy!!!

Continue to stay safe !!!

Birgitte Jallov
CMFE President

CMFE Newsletters
Past newsletters
Strengthening an enabling environment
Countering hatred in public discourse
on gender and immigration
in Spain

The DESPAZ-Social Development and Peace research group has launched a new research project on Communication for Social Change and Media Education to stand up to hate speech on gender and immigration, through the analysis of public discourses in Spain between 2016-2019.

The aim of the project is to identify the components of intolerance and hatred on gender and immigration issues in current public discourses in Spain during 2016-2019. It focuses on a multiple case study composed of the communication of the major Spanish political parties and its media coverage, as well as citizens’ activist discourses and responses from creative industries (that is, the visibility and emergence of feminist discourses and migrant platforms, and the appearance of new media and proposals from popular culture).

Read more

Two Million € COVID-19 emergency fund for 17 Austrian Community Media and their two support organisations

Photo: Petra Moser / FRO

Many media have come under pressure not only in their work but also economically due to Corona and the imposed restrictions.

In Austria, as part of the aid measures for private media, the government also decided to provide special funding for non-commercial community media in the amount of EUR 2 million. 14 free radio stations and 3 community TVs as well as the umbrella organisations VFRÖ and COMMIT will receive support for additional programming efforts under difficult circumstances and for the switch from training to online offerings.

The special support also offers those affected the opportunity to make urgently needed infrastructural purchases and to pay employees according to a desired fair-pay scheme.

For mor information, please find a press release from the Austrian Community Media Association VFRÖ, providing the broader context:

More info
UK Community Radio Stations get £400.000 COVID-19 emergency fund
Community stations in UK facing closure due to Covid-19 can bid for Government grants via Ofcom

A week after the Guardian announced that a third of the UK’s community radio stations could face closure due to the impact of coronavirus without urgent government support (April 22 - photo borrowed from there) the Community Media Association (CMA) of the UK could announce the succesfull result of their negotiations for an emergency fund:

"The Government has today (Wednesday 29 April) announced that community radio stations at risk of closure can bid for cash grants through the Community Radio Fund to meet their urgent needs during the coronavirus outbreak."

The emergency fund includes:

● £400,000 Community Radio Fund redirected to provide emergency support to hard-hit community stations;
● Payments to help meet core costs of providing vital programming to local communities will bbe made to successful applicants within weeks.

Like everywhere, community radio is an increasingly important part of the UK radio landscape. Around 300 not-for-profit stations, based throughout the country and staffed largely by volunteers, broadcast to up to a million listeners per week. This was the winning argument: community media is needed!

More from CMA
In Denmark, COVID-19 support to non-commercial community media comes in the form of a dispensation

Vanja Santos on air at community-owned 'Radio Vesterbro' with the weekly Latin-American programme 'Alo Alo Brazil'. (c) Radio Vesterbro

In Denmark non-commercial community radio receives state support on an annual basis. To be eligible you need to broadcast at least 15 hours of original community programming a week (repeats do not count).

During the COVID-19 period some stations struggle to meet the requirement. As the stations received their annual financial support from the state in February - before hell broke loose - the emergency support to the sector is a dispensation for the normally strictly observed production requirement.

As the Danish Community Media Association SAML (Sammenslutningen af Medier i Lokalsamfundet) stresses, this in no way further enriches the stations, of which many are struggling financially, but it means that no stations need to close down due to the present emergency.

European AV media Regulators respond to COVID-19 Challenges

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ERGA, the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services, has adopted two documents addressing the impact on the media sector and the measures taken by Member States, regulators and stakeholders:

  • Press release, where ERGA underlines the need for measures to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the media sector and the European Single Market. It further introduces ERGA’s contribution to the issue (see also next document);
  • Note to extend the remit of its Subgroup dealing with Disinformation, which will now also gather information on the measures taken by platforms to tackle disinformation related to COVID-19, as well as measures taken by governments and NRAs. Members also decided to create an ERGA Action Group to exchange experiences and information about the crisis’ implications on the economic conditions for the audiovisual media sector in the Member States.

Press Release

Overview of measures on disinformation and media literacy

Within its Subgroup 2 (Media Plurality – Disinformation), ERGA has collected data from its National Regulatory Authorities on the current, planned and other measures in the area of disinformation and media literacy. The document will be constantly updated. See: Measures on Disinformation and Media literacy (ver. 21 Apr 2020)

Updated info
Improving the Visibility of Community Media
We need media, journalism, we can trust - also in these trying times!


To mark World Press Freedom Day 2020, more than 150 members, partners, and affiliate networks joined the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), in the launch of an emergency appeal for journalism and media support in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The statement is a call to action to governments; journalism and media development donors and funders; journalism and media organisations; technology, telecommunication companies, and Internet intermediaries; advertisers, and all those who rely on journalism and news media to stay informed in this unprecedentedly challenging time.

For more...
Beatrice Ngalula Kabutakapua joins the New Neighbours' team

The New Neighbours team is delighted to be working with Beatrice Ngalula Kabutakapua to boost visibility of the project’s outputs and strengthen the New Neighbours community. Beatrice is a communication consultant and storytelling coach with a passion for empowering minority voices.

You can reach her at and on Twitter at @newneighbours1 to follow upcoming activities, film launches and to discover how you can contribute to the project.

New Neighbours is funded by the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM).

UNESCO reports from around the world: 

Radio: Stronger and more vibrant than ever

Half the programmers at Bush Radio, a community radio station in Cape Town, South Africa, are women.

We know it - from our own practice, from what we hear in our networks and from what we read: Radio Rules! 

Still, it is good to get some data, so let us give the word to the UNESCO Courier, World Radio Day 2020 issue:

"First the arrival of television, then the emergence of the internet, followed by the eruption of social networks – all these should have gotten the better of it. Yet, radio continues to broadcast and echo what is happening in the world today. Since 2011, it has even had its own World Radio Day, celebrated on 13 February every year – with diversity as its theme in 2020.

Certainly, after a century of existence, the medium has changed. Transistors have given way to computers and mobile phones. The invention of the podcast in the 2000s has made it possible to develop new kinds of radio scripts and create programming that is free of the constraints of live broadcasts."

Action for Cooperation and Change
COVID-19 resources

For resources - journalistic and financial - related to the Corona-virus outbreak, do go back to the CMFE April news letter here:

April 2020

 CMFE has also prepared a member repository on a google drive, available for upload of change stories and information - and for download of inspiration.

ROZANA: Who creates taboo?

Radio Rozana has launched a program to tackle "taboos" in Syrian society, addressing prohibited issues that will be discussed with specialists and community activists.

The idea started from Syrian youth who found that some red lines resulting from the customs and traditions affect the establishment of a healthy society and restrain freedom and may even destroy it.

The first episode of the program covered the topic "Taboo creation" and included an opinion poll from regions inside and outside Syria. People answered the question, "Who creates the taboo? ... and what is the most common taboo issue in society?"

The programme presenter Mounir Ayoubi invited Dr. Ibrahim Salqini (PhD in Social Jurisprudence), Professor Samira Al-Baho (Activist in women's rights), and Safwan Jammu (political analyst).

Through the polls conducted by Rozana's correspondents, on most of the taboos of Syrian society, the majority agreed that the subjects of honor, women and sexuality are the most complex and silenced issues.

All these topics and points will be discussed in the upcoming episodes of the Taboos Program, prepared by a large group of activists, as well as by male and female journalists.

You can find the results of the survey and the episodes here: 

Radio Rozana
Multilingual Public Service Announcements

If you’re broadcasting to multilingual audiences you may be interested in sharing the Coronavirus Public Service Announcements (PSAs) developed by VOA. The PSAs cover a number of topics related to COVID-19 awareness and prevention and are currently available in English, Dari, Pashto and Urdu.

They are free to use and available here:

Voice of America is an independent international broadcaster funded by the U.S. government that reaches over 280 million people every week across 85 countries in 47 languages via television, radio, web and mobile.

    Who are we in the CMFE? A monthly member portrait
    CMA - Community Media Association (UK)

    The CMA is a non-profit making organisation founded in 1983 to support community radio – and their remit has expanded to include community television and community-based Internet projects. The CMA represents the community media sector to Government, industry and regulatory bodies.

    CMA membership brings together established organisations, aspirant groups and individuals within the sector. The CMA provides a range of advice, information and consultancy, offering support to anyone with an interest in the sector. CMFE held its 2018 General Assembly alongside the CMA conference in Sheffield and was able to witness the highly involved and diverse CMA members presenting, discussing and partying!

    The CMA seeks to raise the profile of the sector and its aims to political decision-makers and previously established an All Party Group of MPs and Lords that was set up to support the principles underlying community media.

    Much of the CMA’s work has a strategic emphasis and the organisation has been intensely involved in liaison on behalf of the community broadcasting sector with Government, the regulator Ofcom and other strategic bodies regarding actual or proposed legislation and regulation.

    Earlier in this newsletter we report one such impressive accomplishment: the creation of a community media emergency fund of £400.000 for media in need due to the COVID-19 related challenges.

    More on CMA...
    All that you did not know you might be missing...
    C L A S S I F I E D S
    Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy

    A common challenge exists in very different political, economic, and social contexts around the world: with a decline in advertising revenue, a rise of authoritarian governments cracking down on robust reporting, and now the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating both of these problems, how can media work in the public interest?

    Enabling Media Markets to Work for Democracy has been released to explore this issue and outlines the case for, and the practical feasibility of establishing, a new International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM). The study is a summary of the results of an extensive year-long consultation process with media and media support organisations, donors, technology companies, academics, and others. It was produced by BBC’s international development charity BBC Media Action with financial support from Luminate.

    Info & download
    Communication for Development - An evaluation Framework in Action

    A lot of the work we do in community media has a community and social change perspective. Sometimes we know that we have generated change by improving the lives or livelihood of the community we serve - but often we don't know.

    This book is the result of a collaboration between practitioners in the field of communication for social change and theoreticians - debating ways of evaluating and documenting what works - and how.

    From the book (page 26) Participatory appraisal with adults. (c) Isabela Warioba.

    Jessica Noske Turner
    , editor, opens her presentation of the book: "From girls’ education awareness and action, to attitudes towards violence against children, communication for development (C4D) is a critical tool for sharing knowledge and creating social change. Evaluating how effective such communication has been in creating social change presents challenges. How can this information be gathered in a participatory way? How can we understand the contribution of C4D programmes to change? How can we ensure we learn from and adapt communication in the process?

    Communication for Development reflects on the challenges and opportunities of bringing a social change framework into practice. Underpinned by an Appreciative inquiry approach, the book explores the
    research, monitoring and evaluation of C4D - the field’s leading evaluation framework."

    Info & download
    Journalism, press freedom and COVID-19

    In UNESCO's series of issue briefs on "World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development", The most recent issue focuses on 'Journalism, press freedom and COVID-19'. The brief presents and discusses 7 key trends, namely:

    • Fueling the pandemic, a dangerous “disinfodemic” has arisen;
    • Against soaring demand for verified information, independent media have risen to the challenge;
    • Technology companies are taking action, but more transparency is needed;
    • Some regulatory measures have led to new restrictions of human rights;
    • To keep the public informed, journalists are putting their own safety at risk;
    • The economic impact of COVID-19 may pose an existential threat to journalism; and
    • Amid the crisis, there are new opportunities to stand up for journalism.

    We are happy to share the introduction to the wealth of resources to which this 'brief' links. Enjoy:

    Brief here !
    Civitates core grants to strengthen public interest journalism

    Civitates aims to establish a strong cohort of independent, public interest journalism organisations which defend democracy in Europe by exposing abuses of power and drivers of polarization, and defending a space in which all voices are heard.

    They are currently accepting applications for core grants to strengthen public interest journalism organisations across Europe. The deadline is 30 June.

    More here
    AFF/BFR-RADIOCAMP postponed to 2021

    Due to the public health measures in place in the context of COVID-19, the yearly AFF/BFR-Radiocamp is postponed to the spring of 2021.

    Since 1995 radio journalists from several community radios gather to learn, network and produce content together at the AFF/BFR-Radiocamp on Lake Constance.

    The camp provides an excellent opportunity to meet community media journalists, nerds, political and social activists and technicians, who offer workshops of almost any kind concerning media and political activity.

    No matter where your interests lie, be it editorial work, technical support or theoretical discussions; whether you are experienced or have just joined the media community – everyone can learn something new every day. The workshops are not the only things going on at the camp, there are also lots of cultural and leisure activities as well as the beautiful landscape of south-west Germany.

    More information
    CMFE and New Neighbours are CMMA Conference partners - much more in the next newsletters:
    Newest information
    Community Media Forum Europe -

    Rue de la Linière 11, Bruxelles

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