Sunday, December 28, 2008

A unique television channel under threat

The withdrawal of government funding threatens South Korea's innovative RTV, writes ELLIE RENNIE

PRESS and broadcasting institutions the world over are struggling to survive in the turbulent climate we call “media convergence.” So what’s the big deal about one new name on the endangered media list?

Unfortunately, the television channel under threat this time is South Korea’s RTV and it is a rare species as far as broadcasters go. The station provides access, funding and training to producers from all walks of life and strives to assist underrepresented communities. Until now, RTV and its programmers survived off money from satellite provider SkyLife and the Korean Communications Commission (KCC). The money from KCC will dry-up in a month’s time, leaving only the SkyLife funding (around 400 million Won), which is barely enough to cover transmission costs. Korean media activists, who fought long and hard to establish and maintain the channel, are now desperately looking for a means to keep RTV alive.

I first visited Seoul in autumn of 2007 to participate in RTV’s fifth birthday celebrations. Ellie Rennie and others at the 2007 celebration of RTV.
I was invited to speak about community media in my country, along with six other international alternative media pioneers and researchers (DeeDee Halleck, Supinya Klangnarong, Jon Stout, Katherin Araujo, Adilson Cabral, Kate Coyer and Gabi Hadl). At the massive banquet dinner we stood in front of towering wreathes of flowers and ribbons – gifts from various government departments and corporations. We listened to enthusiastic speeches as DeeDee went up on stage to cut a large jelly-like rice cake. It looked to us as though RTV had a bright future and wide support.

Public access television (also known as community television) is not an easy project to undertake. I have visited stations around the globe and seen only the occasional success amongst countless variations (there are over 2000 access channels in the United States alone). Before YouTube, public access television was the only systematic means for non-professionals to screen DIY videos. Today, the more successful access stations do more than YouTube, performing a curatorial role whilst still adhering to community governance principles. When the formula is right, a community television channel can be kaleidoscope of local culture, an industry training ground and an important tool for social movements. The Koreans were late starters in the community TV game. After a couple of shaky years, RTV did their research and consulted with communities and media centres at home and abroad. By the time it turned five, RTV had pretty much hit upon the perfect model.

Here’s how it works: RTV is a cable and satellite provided, non-profit organisation, committed to openness, independence and fairness. By “independence” they mean that the programming and operations of the station are free from political and economic interests. “Openness” describes the access policy, whereby members of the general public can submit programs for screening, free of charge. “Fairness,” however, is what distinguishes RTV from many other community television channels. To achieve this, RTV established two committees to oversee program planning, selection and grants. These committees are intentionally separate from station management and give priority to underprivileged and minority groups as well as issues not dealt with in the mainstream media. By providing funding, training and free equipment loans to programmers, RTV has nurtured small production groups committed to documenting the things that really matter. Regular shows include migrant and Korean workers’ news, disabled rights and media education. When I visited in 2007, RTV had a budget of 3.17 billion won ($A3 million), including 1.5 billion won ($A 1.6 million) in grants from the government’s Broadcasting Promotion Fund. Approximately 800 million won ($A900,000) went directly to programmers.

I learnt of RTV’s dramatic change of fortune at a symposium in Seoul this month, sponsored by the newly merged Broadcasting-Telecommunications Commission. Our host was Kim Myoung Joon, or “MJ” to his Western friends, director of the community media centre MediAct. MJ expects that RTV’s staff will try to keep the station running on volunteer time for a few months at least. As Korea has a compulsory redundancy policy, when staff officially leave then the station assets will need to be sold to cover their redundancy packages. In order to avoid that, station workers will probably live off welfare payments while they try to find alternative revenue sources.

So why was RTV’s government-derived budget terminated? South Korea elected a new president, Lee Myang-bak, in December 2007. The former CEO of Hyundai has been pursuing conservative, free-market policies since he came to power, including the controversial free trade agreement with the US and the importation of American beef. A publicly supported, community-run television channel doesn’t fit within President Lee’s national vision, apparently. Looking back at my photos from RTV’s fifth birthday a year ago, I now think of funeral wreaths when I see the towers of flowers in the banquet hall. Some of those gifts were delivered by the same corporations that support President Lee, or by government agencies that will administer the station’s demise. But it’s not over yet. RTV has that amazing Korean combination of activism and hard work on its side. And although RTV may be endangered, the Korean alternative media movement is growing stronger. •
by Ellie Rennie

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peoples' Production House Takes Part in Community Media Gathering in Seoul

Photo by Ellie Rennie
People's Production House attended an international seminar on community media in Seoul, Korea, December 17-18, 2008. The seminar, was organized by Korean community media centers Mediact and CAMF and sponsored by the Broadcasting-Telecommunication Commission.

“This is an honor for People's Production House and our innovative integration of participatory media production and media policy advocacy,” PPH Interim Executive Director Don Rojas said. “We are excited to discuss our local work in an international context and to learn from the other participants.”

Participants are traveling from Korea, the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, and Australia to discuss the role of community media and media activism in this time of media convergence. The other participants from the United States are Hye-Jung Park of the Funding Exchange, Joel Kelsey from Consumers Union, Louis Massiah from Scribe Video Center, and Sasha Costanza-Chock from the USC Annenberg School for Communication.For Korean participants, as for those from the US, this discussion takes place during a moment of great political transition, though the media activists in Korea are shifting to a less hospitable regime, while the incoming US President is more supportive of progressive media policies. MediAct emerged from the successful social movements in Korea that overthrew the military dictatorship. Over the years, it has provided fundamental infrastructure for participatory media democracy and secured government support for community radio, public access on cable and satellite, and local media centers.

MediAct is part of a National Media Activist Network in Korea responding to two overlapping challenges. First, the new President is pushing neoliberal reforms, including an assault on public media and restrictions on Korea's advanced broadband infrastructure. The second challenge is the fast process of media convergence. The speed of technological and industrial developments have created a situation where the traditional regulatory framework has become obsolete. Commercial interests are placing immense pressure on community media as a public activity.

People's Production House Co-Director Kat Aaron and Policy Director Joshua Breitbart will be presenting the organization's successful multimedia and media policy training program for youth and community media organizers. We will be looking to learn strategies for synthesizing various methods of media activism, integrating media production with social movements, and forming national alliances for promoting media policy reform. Together, all participants will also be discussing the challenges and opportunities for funding in this economic, political, and technological moment.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Declaration from Local Radio in Latin America Conference in La Paz

For more pictures of radio stations in Latin America, go to

Reunidos en la ciudad de La Paz, Bolivia, del 19 al 21 de noviembre de 2008, los participantes del Seminario Internacional sobre la “Radio Local en América Latina: Políticas y Legislación”, suscribimos el presente documento.


Que la Convención Americana de Derechos Humanos y la Convención sobre Diversidad Cultural de la UNESCO, tratados internacionales vigentes como la Declaración de Principios sobre Libertad de Expresión de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) y la Declaración sobre Diversidad en la Radiodifusión de los Relatores de Libertad de Expresión de la ONU y la OEA establecen el derecho a la comunicación y a la libertad de expresión a través de la radio.

Que ha sido iniciado un proceso de elaboración de estándares para legislación de radiodifusión comunitaria por la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos y la Relatoría Especial para la Libertad de Expresión de la OEA.

Que ya se cuenta con un documento que establece los “Principios para un marco regulatorio democrático sobre radio y televisión comunitaria” elaborado por AMARC (Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias) en consulta con otras organizaciones de la región.

Que hay un creciente reconocimiento del sector de la radiodifusión local, independiente y comunitaria en América Latina, a partir de políticas públicas y marcos de regulación establecidos recientemente donde destacan los casos de Uruguay, Ecuador y Colombia.

Que los aspectos anteriores abren una oportunidad histórica para que Bolivia profundice y avance, desde la experiencia lograda hasta ahora por el movimiento de la radiodifusión local y comunitaria, hacia una democracia participativa en la comunicación, en correlato con el proceso de democratización de la sociedad.


Que las libertades de expresión e información y los derechos a la comunicación y a la cultura son derechos humanos inalienables garantizados por tratados y declaraciones internacionales.

Que la comunicación es un derecho humano fundamental que debe ser promovido y protegido por el Estado, lo que supone ampliar las libertades de expresión e información diversas y plurales, así como garantizar su ejercicio mediante el acceso, la participación y la gestión en los procesos y medios de comunicación, creando condiciones para un desarrollo humano integral como premisa de la convivencia democrática, participativa, plural e incluyente.

Que tales derechos, incluido el acceso equitativo y la participación en los medios de comunicación, deben protegerse y extenderse en el contexto de los rápidos cambios en las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación en convergencia con las formas tradicionales de expresión.

Que el ejercicio efectivo de los derechos a la comunicación, a la información y a la libertad de expresión no se alcanza si no se garantiza la igualdad de oportunidades de acceso y participación en los medios de radio y televisión, evitando su concentración en pocas manos.

Que la participación comunitaria y ciudadana son indispensables en el proceso de democratización social, política, cultural y económica de los pueblos, porque permiten que la sociedad en su conjunto tome las decisiones sobre su presente y futuro.

Que el Estado debe garantizar tanto el pleno ejercicio de la libertad de expresión y de los derechos a la comunicación e información de forma plural y equitativa, lo cual implica reconocer y hacer efectivas las dinámicas, procesos y uso de los medios evitando prácticas discriminatorias.
Que la generación de legislación en comunicación y de políticas públicas locales, regionales y nacionales acordes al mismo sentido de este proceso, debe contar con la participación ciudadana en su propuesta, diseño, implementación y veeduría.
Que la autorregulación debe enmarcarse en las disposiciones creadas por leyes, asociaciones de medios y constituciones en la medida en que permite a los medios construir acuerdos éticos y comunicativos que se deben respetar en la práctica y vigilar con el apoyo de la participación ciudadana.
Que la diversidad y el pluralismo son objetivos fundamentales de cualquier marco regulatorio democrático en la radiodifusión.
Que el espectro radiofónico es un recurso natural reconocido como bien público y patrimonio común de la humanidad y por tanto el Estado debe administrarlo en función de este objetivo.
Que la radio y la televisión locales, independientes y comunitarias son medios que brindan un servicio y utilidad social respondiendo a un proyecto político de comunidad y sociedad, pluralista e incluyente.
Que las emisoras comunitarias, locales e independientes de los intereses comerciales, religiosos y partidistas deben promover la participación ciudadana así como la promoción y defensa los Derechos Humanos.
Que las radios y televisoras comunitarias, locales e independientes pueden ser actores privados que tienen una finalidad social o pueden ser iniciativa de organizaciones sociales de diverso tipo, sin fines de lucro, siendo su característica fundamental la participación de la comunidad en la propiedad, la programación, la administración, la operación, el financiamiento y/o la evaluación del medio.
Que no se trata de medios ni gubernamentales ni comerciales, pues no realizan proselitismo religioso o partidario y son independientes de los partidos políticos, las iglesias y/o las empresas comerciales.
Que una legislación adecuada sobre medios comunitarios, locales e independientes no debe imponer límites técnicos, territoriales, étnicos, de generación de recursos o tecnológicos arbitrarios, ni requisitos y condiciones de asignación discriminatorios. Más aún, debe proveerse de mecanismos y criterios diferenciados con respecto a otros sectores de la radiodifusión.
Por lo tanto concluimos y recomendamos que,

El movimiento boliviano de comunicación comunitaria y democrática tiene una responsabilidad histórica para reafirmar, profundizar y desarrollar la normativa, a partir de los avances logrados en el proyecto de la Constitución Política del Estado sometida al referéndum el 25 de enero de 2009.
Una primera tarea es que los medios comunitarios, locales e independientes bolivianos desplieguen los máximos esfuerzos para explicar los cambios que en materia comunicacional y en otros rubros claves para el futuro de Bolivia, están contenidos en el nuevo texto constitucional tan larga y trabajosamente construido.
Una vez aprobada la Constitución Política del Estado, corresponde al movimiento comunicacional boliviano desarrollar un intenso proceso de diálogos públicos y democráticos, así como la construcción de propuestas para la estructuración de la comunicación democrática en Bolivia a partir de los artículos 106 y 107 referidos al tema de comunicación.
Se debe iniciar un proceso de socialización del significado, trascendencia e implicaciones que tendrán para la comunicación en Bolivia los artículos mencionados, en el contexto de otros importantes cambios en la organización del Estado y de la sociedad bolivianos.
Entre las primeras medidas luego de aprobada la Constitución Política del Estado debería promoverse la formulación de un nuevo marco regulatorio en radiodifusión que reconozca la presencia y convivencia de tres diferentes sectores: público, comercial y comunitario, asegurando así un sistema de medios plurales y diversos.
Para ello se deben tomar medidas efectivas para democratizar el uso del espectro radioeléctrico estableciendo una reserva de por lo menos un tercio para la radiodifusión comunitaria (sin fines religiosos, partidistas o de lucro) y asignando las frecuencias a través de mecanismos transparentes y ágiles con participación ciudadana. Lo económico no debería ser el criterio que defina a quién se le asigna una frecuencia.

Los cambios legales deben ir acompañados del establecimiento de políticas públicas para promover y fortalecer el sector de los medios comunitarios, locales e independientes, tales como fondos públicos concursables, exoneraciones impositivas, y otros; el Estado debe también garantizar el acceso tecnológico digital a las comunidades.

Se deben adoptar medidas efectivas para evitar la concentración de medios en manos privadas, tanto de carácter oligopólico como monopólico.

Es necesario articular el movimiento de comunicación comunitario con otros sectores del ámbito comunicacional con los cuales se puede construir propuestas concertadas. Es también necesaria la articulación de alianzas con otros sectores sociales y actores claves para conseguir la aprobación y reglamentación de una nueva legislación sobre comunicación.
En este marco, hacemos un llamado público para constituir un Comité de Acción que impulse la construcción de propuestas, donde estén representados los radiodifusores locales, el sector académico y las redes de comunicación nacionales, con acompañamiento de redes regionales de comunicación. Damos nuestro voto de confianza a los organizadores del seminario para facilitar el proceso de constitución del Comité de Acción.

La Paz, 21 de noviembre de 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Greek Youths Take over Television Station

This picture taken from Greek state NET televisoin shows a group of protesters holding banners at a brief occupation of a studio during a news bulletin, Tuesday, Dec. 16 2008. Some 10 youths took part in the protest, interrupting footage of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The main banner reads: "Stop watching, get out onto the streets." Earlier Tuesday, masked youths attacked the Greek riot police headquarters in Athens and other protesters clashed with police in a northern city, in a revival of violence sparked by a teenager's fatal shooting on Dec. 6. (AP Photo/Nikos Paphitis)

ATHENS, Greece – Greek protesters pushed their way into television and radio studios Tuesday, forcing broadcasters to put out anti-government messages in a change of tactics after days of violent street protests. A group of about 10 youths got into the studio of NET state television and turned off a broadcast of a speech by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, station officials said. The protesters forced studio cameras to instead show them holding up banners that read: "Stop watching, get out onto the streets," and "Free everyone who has been arrested." No one was hurt, and no arrests were reported.

NET chairman Christos Panagopoulos said the protesters appeared to know how to operate cameras and studio controls. "This goes beyond any limit," he said. In the northern city of Thessaloniki, protesters made their way into three local radio stations, agreeing to leave only when a protest message was read out on the air. Violence also broke out again after a two-day lull as masked youths attacked riot police headquarters in Athens and protesters clashed with police in Thessaloniki. Police said 30 youths threw petrol bombs and stones at the riot police building, damaging seven cars and a police bus parked outside.

In Thessaloniki, riot police fired tear gas to disperse 300 youths throwing fruit and stones outside the city's main court complex. The disturbance followed a court decision that found eight police officers guilty of abusing a student following riots two years ago. Overnight, arsonists attacked three Athens banks with petrol bombs, causing extensive damage. The fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on Dec. 6 set off violence that led to more than 300 arrested and left hundreds of stores smashed and looted. Retailers say the damage will cost them euro1.5 billion ($2 billion) in lost income.
Protesters have called for riot officers to be pulled off the streets and for police to be disarmed. But the protests tapped into wider discontent with Karamanlis' conservative government and there have been widespread calls for the government to revise its economic, social and education policies.

Higher education in Greece has come to a standstill. Lessons have stopped at more than 100 secondary schools that are under occupation by students, according to the Education Ministry. Scores of university buildings across Greece are also occupied.
Greece's opposition Socialists, who are calling for early elections, accused Karamanlis of mishandling the crisis which they said had worsened the effects of the international economic downturn.

"Greeks are losing their patience. Their salary is running out before the end of the month as they endure a major economic crisis, and at the same time can see the state collapsing," Socialist spokesman Giorgos Papaconstantinou said.
"People want answers to their problems, not speeches." Karamanlis insisted his government has acted "calmly and responsibly" in dealing with riots, avoiding the loss of life. But for the first time since the violence erupted, he acknowledged the public's sense of frustration. "Of course there are broader issues," he said. "People experience a lack or merit, corruption in their daily lives, and a sense of social injustice."
In Athens main Syntagma Square, Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis relaunched holiday celebrations after the city's Christmas tree was torched by rioters last week. A small group of protesters chanted slogans during tree-lighting ceremony, as hundreds of revelers looked on. The protesters, mostly students from various drama schools, handed out fliers that read: "Lavish storefront and Christmas Trees will not hide the reality."In a symbolic protest against how the tv stations are covering the events and in general against the television, activists gathered and smashed television sets in downtown Athens. The national and international media that appeared were moved away.

The following was published on Greek Indymedia:

On the 6th of December 2008, a police man pulled a gun and shot dead a 15 year old child. Peoples’ rage is growing despite the attempts of both the media and the government to mislead public opinion.
It should be evident to all by now that this uprising is not merely an honorary response to the death of Alexandros. Ever since, there has been much talk about theft, burning and looting. For media and politicians, violence is understood only in terms of what disturbs the public order.
For us, however:

Violence is working non stop for 40 years and wonder whether you will ever retire.

Violence is the stock market, stolen pensions and shares.
Violence is to be obliged to take on a mortgage which you end up repaying double
Violence is the managerial right of an employer to dismiss you of your duties any time he or she likes.
Violence is unemployment, precarity, 700 Euros salary.
Violence is “accidents” in the work place, because bosses reduce their costs against the security of their employees.
Violence is being on prozak and vitamins in order to cope with overtime.
Violence is to be an immigrant, to live in fear that you are likely to be deported any time and experience a constant insecurity.
Violence is to be a housewife, a wage labourer and a mother at the same time.
Violence is to be sexually harassed at work and being told: “Smile, we are not asking you for much are we”.
The uprising of school children, students, unemployed the workers on temporary contracts and the immigrants broke through the violence of normality. This uprising must not stop! Syndicalists, political parties, priests, journalists and businessmen are determined to maintain the type of violence in which we refer to above.
It is not just them; we are also responsible for the indefinite continuation of the situation descried above. This uprising has opened a space for communication where we can finally express ourselves freely. We therefore decided to occupy the town hall of Agios Dimitrios and the call for a popular assembly, open to everyone
An open space for dialogue and communication, to break through the silence, to take over our lives!

Occupation of Agios Dimitrios town hall- Athens, Greece

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Colombia community radio station suffers another technical setback by the forces of terror in Cauca

Members of the Communication Team during the "Minga" the historic march from Cauca to Cali and Bogota.
This is the English translation of the communique put out by ACIN on Monday regarding recent acts of sabotage against the community radio station, Radio Pa'yumat. It is urgent that the national and international community make known their repudiation of these ongoing acts of intimidation and terror against one of the most important community media in Colombia. ACIN's primary community radio station suffers another technical setback by the forces of terror in Cauca

12/15/2008 Author: Communication Team for External Relations, Life and the Truth
ACIN (Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca)
(Tejido de Comunicacion y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida-ACIN)
We are the victims of an integral plan of aggression that clearly emanates from all the armed actors operating in our territories. In the name of the struggle of the people for a country without owners, we reject these actions, come from where they may! We call your attention to events that occurred on Saturday, December 13th, in the mountain of Munchique de los Tigres, in northern Cauca, where the small shed housing the transmission equipment and the antenna of ACIN's community station Radio Pa'yumat was ransacked and damaged. The perpetrators stole the copper wires that protect the
equipment, causing severe technical damage to all the transmission equipment of Radio Pa'yumat, the voice of theNasa people,

It is important to point out that this is not the first time that such acts of sabotage have occurred against our radio station, given that in previous occasions, not only have they robbed the copper protective cables, but thugs have also stolen the broadcast equipment from within the station's studios in Santander de Quilichao. Not coincidentally, these prior acts of sabotage have occurred at the precise time that our communities were initiating major mobilizations and important actions against the armed actors that constantly provoke war in our territories.Therefore, the assault against our community radio station is not an isolated incident, but is part of a deliberate strategy of silencing the indigenous movement of northern Cauca, because the radio station is the most important medium within the community. It allows us to listen to one another, to discuss important issues, reflect on them, make decisions in the interest of the community, and take actions collectively in defense of life and of our territory.From the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, we publicly denounce these acts of aggression against the word of the indigenous movement, because to silence us within this context of aggression that we are living is to shut down the voice of resistance, and put us in immediate risk. This is because when something severely urgent occurs in our territory, the important mechanism of communication that is radio will no longer be at our disposal to alert the community and to create solidarity in times of emergency. From our own experiences, we know that when there are persecutions, kidnappings, threats, attacks and all the other acts of violence, radio is our primary means of communication.Therefore, the intention of this latest act of sabotage is to silence the voice of the Nasa people, to weaken the political and organizational process, and the ability to react immediately to acts of violence in our territory. This is already evident in the resguardo of Munchique, where we currently have an entire family disappeared-- the Sanchez-Serna family; Florentino Sanchez, 55, Aminta Serna, 47, and Carol Ximena Sanchez, 12.

Precisely at a time when we need this important communication medium to move the community in search of this family, we cannot count on the station to carry out our work more effectively. Furthermore, we currently have information about diverse acts of terror, mobilization and defamation being planned against the indigenous processes, specifically against the resguardos of Corinto, Tacuey, and Huellas-Caloto, among others.

These are actions that present themselves with different justifications, they are nefarious crimes carried out by actors who hide themselves from the public, with the objective of intimidation and terror. We denounce these acts of aggression with anticipation, come from where they may, considering that they only benefit those people who want to rob and displace us of our territory, and they work against the interests of the popular struggle, for the dignity that we defend through the agenda of the Social and Community Minga, la Minga Popular.For all the reasons cited above, we reject the sabotage carried out against the indigenous movement, the Communication Team of ACIN, and specifically, against Radio Payumat, because these acts once again prove the systematic strategies of repression and defamation being carried out against the indigenous communities of northern Cauca.

Finally, we put out a call to the indigenous authorities for their help in investigating these acts and catching those who are responsible, and to the national and international community, to denounce this aggression against our process and to mobilize the economic resources of support that might help us to recuperate the equipment that was damaged.We are victims of an integral plan of aggression that undoubtedly emanates from all the armed actors in our territories. In the name of the struggle of the people for a country without owners, we reject these actions, come from where they may!
Tejido de Comunicacion y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida-ACIN Santander de Quilichao, diciembre 15 de 2008.
An earlier photo during the "Minga" march to Bogota. Members of the Tejido de Comunicación (Communications network of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca) preparing for the assembly.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Report by Mario Murillo from Colombia: Attack on CRIC

This morning, at about 4:00am, on the road between Inza, Tierradentro, and Totora, on indigenous territory, the official car of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, was shot at 19 times by a column of the Third Division of the Army, fatally wounding the driver, Edwin Legarda Vazquez, Quilcua's husband. Quilcua is the Chief Counsel of CRIC, and one of the most visible leaders of the recent Indigenous and Popular Minga that began on October 11th, culminating in a massive march and rally in downtown Bogota¡ on November 21st.

Three bullets penetrated Legarda, who did not survive the emergency surgery he was given after being rushed to San Jose Hospital in Popayan, the departmental capital.

But most people close to CRIC believe the bullets were really meant for his wife, who apparently was just returning from Geneva where she had been participating in the United Nations Human Rights Commission sessions on Colombia. She was not in the car when the attack occurred.

Ernesto Parafan, the lawyer for CRIC, believes it was a deliberate act committed against the organization, and specifically an attempt on Quilcua's life by the government's security apparatus. According to the indigenous leadership, Quilcua, along with other prominent leaders, has received numerous death threats in recent months, especially during the six weeks of mobilization and protests that captured the attention of both national and international public opinion.....

Silencing the Truth in Northern Cauca
The senseless tragedy befalling Quilcua, her family, CRIC and the entire indigenous community of Colombia is currently being reported peripherally by the corporate national news media such as El Tiempo, Caracol Radio and other sources. However, one media outlet where it is not currently being reported is on the community radio station of the Nasa people of northern cauca, Radio Payumat, licensed to the ACIN.Over the weekend, the station's transmitter equipment, and antenna were severely damaged in an act of sabotage by as of yet unnamed actors, although the community refers to the perpetrators as the same forces of terror that continue to try to silence the indigenous movement with acts of violence. ACIN has denounced the latest assault on their primary communication vehicle on its website, stating that it is part of an ongoing process of intimidation and fear:

"Not coincidentally, these prior acts of sabotage have occurred at the precise time that our communities were initiating major mobilizations and important actions against the armed actors that constantly provoke war in our territories. Therefore, the assault against our community radio station is not an isolated incident, but is part of a deliberate strategy of silencing the indigenous movement of northern Cauca, because the radio station is the most important medium within the community. It allows us to listen to one another, to discuss important issues, reflect on them, make decisions in the interest of the community, and take actions collectively in defense of life and of our territory."This is a photo, taken in 2007 of Mario Murillo and the staff of Radio Payumat, whose transmitter was destroyed in the recent violence.

It is understood by most observers that the indigenous communities that have been most successful over the years at confronting the myriad threats to their autonomy throughout the country, are those with the strongest organizational structures, legitimized by being in a constant dialogue with the base. These are the same communities that continue to play the role of interlocutor with other, non-indigenous actors, be they state institutions, different social sectors like the peasant or trade union movements, and international solidarity organizations.

And not surprisingly, many of these communities, like the cabildos that make up ACIN, maintain their own, independent media channels as essential components of their collective resistance. These community media channels spring from a long tradition of grassroots, independent, citizens' media projects that have emerged throughout Colombia over the past 35 years, and that coalesced alongside broad based social movements with the rewriting of the Constitution in 1991. Naturally, these community-based media are only as effective as their organizations capacity to successfully confront the destructive, militarist, and undemocratic models that surround them. In the long run, strong organizational bases make them more secure and protect them from the inevitable, reactionary backlash, given the high levels of violence that has always been directed towards independent voices in Colombia. But sometimes that high level of organizing is not enough to prevent the kind of sabotage that occurred over the weekend.

"Those who carried out this act of sabotage knew what they were doing," said Dora Muñoz, Coordinator of the Radio station. She added “all of this points to a systematic wave of terror. I'm afraid we're only just beginning to see what may come in the coming days and weeks, directed against us."

The Nasa communities of Cauca, with their long trajectory of mobilization spearheaded by CRIC and ACIN, in the spirit of constructing sustainable, democratic alternatives, are working alongside truly revolutionary, transformative practices in communication. Radio Payumat happens to be one of the national models of these transformative communication practices, rooted in indigenous traditions of bottom-up consultation and community reflection. However, it is not supported in any way by state institutions.

If there were some state communication policies that were in defense of the rights of the people, the immediate reaction of the government would have been to repudiate these acts of sabotage and provide some resources to support the radio station's efforts, efforts that we depend on for our security and well being while we are under constant attack," said Ezequiel Vitonas, a member of the council of chiefs of ACIN.

Today, December 16th, 2008, on the 17th anniversary of the massacre of 20 Nasa on the Nilo estate, on the same day that the husband of CRIC's chief spokesperson was killed by a fusillade of Army bullets, ACIN's radio station remains off the air due to ruthless acts of sabotage.

For more information go to Mario Murillo's blog from Colombia:
or the CRIC site:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Celebration for Communication Anthology

Jose Antonio Quiroga, Director of Plural, with Thomas Tufte and Luis Ramiro Beltran

The second launching –after Mexico last October- of the Communication for Social Change Anthology took place in La Paz (Bolivia) as part of the International Seminar on Local Radio in Latin America: Policies and Legislation, on November 2oth 2008, at Plural Editores bookstore. The presenters were former President of Bolivia Carlos D. Mesa, who also wrote the foreword, and Luis Ramiro Beltrán, one of the early pioneers of communication for development in Latin America. Both Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron and Thomas Tufte, the co-editors, were in attendance, as well as several authors such as Erick Torrico (Bolivia), Rosa María Alfaro (Peru) and Cicilia Peruzzo (Brazil).

Carlos D. Mesa mentioned that the title of the book was limited, since its content covers a much wider effort: “We could say that this is a universal anthology of communication, because it contains much more than what is specific to communication for development… This is a book of global features, the most complete, exhaustive and above all the most rigorous, as it gathers and interprets the views on communication for development since the criteria itself originated in the 1950s, until today”.
Luis Ramiro Beltran and Alfonso Gumucio at the launching in La Paz

During his intervention Luis Ramiro Beltrán said: “The way texts are arranged, first those considered of historical value and then those of the contemporary debate, makes the reading very easy and helps to understand the evolution of the discipline as well as to absorb both the pioneering ideas and the current thinking. We can at the same time compare the contributions from various continents and within our own region… Can we ask for more? Think about the advantage that this brings to professors and students of the field, as well as researchers and historians”.
To purchase a copy go to

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Encuentro for Community Infocenters in Venezuela

Encuentro de Experiencias Comunitarias
¡Hacia el II Encuentro de Experiencias Comunitarias de los Infocentros!
El II Encuentro de Experiencias Comunitarias de los Infocentros se realizará desde el día 08 hasta el 11 de diciembre de 2008,
Lugar: plaza Pueblos y Saberes, Torre Ministerial, Av. Universidad, esquina El Chorro, La Hoyada, Caracas- Venezuela
El II Encuentro será un espacio para divulgar las experiencias significativas realizadas desde los infocentros, para vernos y mostrarnos, para el debate y la generación de nuevas propuestas, también se establecerán articulaciones entre infocentros, comunidades, participantes y organizaciones sociales.

Gracias a los facilitadores y facilitadoras, coordinadores y coordinadoras quienes, con su diaria labor y sentido humano, construyen un mundo distinto donde las Tecnologías de Información y Comunicación se encuentren a disposición de la organización popular. Continuemos profundizando nuestra hermosa misión:
Impulsar el proceso de apropiación de las tecnologías de información y comunicación por parte de los sectores populares, mediante la consolidación de los infocentros como espacios comunitarios que faciliten la construcción colectiva y transferencias de saberes y conocimientos, las relaciones de colaboración y coordinación, fortaleciendo el desarrollo de las potencialidades locales, las redes sociales y la participación protagónica de nuestro pueblo.
Fundación Infocentro Organismo adscrito al Ministerio del Poder Popular para Ciencia y Tecnología E-mail:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Kate Coyer and Others on Meaningful Research

The Social Science Research Council has published several interesting essays about communication research.
The following is an excerpt from the essay by Kate Coyer
Community Media:
Scholarship, Policy Advocacy, and Power Tools

I was once quoted in a magazine article saying that I never wanted to attend a conference again if it didn’t involve power tools. At the time, I was likely holding a soldering iron in my hand. In my ideal world I would have the time, resources and commitment to be a scholar, a policy advocate, and a community media volunteer. In reality of course my interventions vary in their efficacy.

What I do take away from these experiences of helping build (literally) community radio stations with the Prometheus Radio Project and train volunteer producers is what I hope to be a deeper understanding of what goes into building and sustaining independent, not for profit media; what some of the practical research needs are related to increased pressure from funders to measure impact (as well as a desire to better understand one’s audiences and communities being served); and a desire to see the sector grow and evolve. The question is how can I translate this into meaningful research.

Background: Low Power Movement and Policy-making
The movement for Low Power FM Radio (LPFM) in the United States in the was fought and won by activists with groups like Prometheus and what was then the Microradio Empowerment Coalition with little if any academic research to draw on for support. Many case studies and scholarly pieces have been written about the success of stations on air and the model of communities coming together to collectively build their own stations pioneered by Prometheus called “Radio Barnraisings.”

For the rest of this essay go to:

Kate and workshop participant in Tanzania. Prometheus Radio Project technicians and trainers joined forces with the United African Alliance Community Center in Imbaseni Village near Arusha, Tanzania