Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gaza's writing on the wall

by Toufic Haddad
In the Gaza Strip graffiti is not only tolerated but encouraged For years, law enforcement agencies throughout the world have engaged in local crusades against what they regard as the scourge of graffiti. New South Wales in Australia recently passed an anti-graffiti law that could see juvenile offenders jailed for up to 12 months. New York state has made it illegal to sell spray paint to anyone under 18, and Singapore has even physically canned graffiti artists as punishment. But when it comes to the Israeli occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip, local government not only tolerates graffiti, but actually provides workshops on how artists can improve their technique.

Part propaganda, part art

Hamas facilitates the work of its graffiti artists - even purchasing spray paint for them.

The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, fully facilitates the work of its graffiti artists - from purchasing spray paint, to inviting artists to work on choice locations. Elaborate, colourful calligraphy brightens the drab streets and alleys of the Gaza Strip's densely populated towns and refugee camps. Most is political in nature, inscribing slogans of defiance against the Israeli occupation, or commemorating fallen martyrs. Some is apolitical, congratulating newly weds on their marriage, or pilgrims who have completed the Muslim obligation of Hajj.

Graffiti in Gaza is by no means the sole domain of Hamas. All political factions control crews of artists to prop up their influence and credibility. Part propaganda, part free-standing works of art, Gaza's graffiti is deeply ingrained in the local society's historical and political fabric. "During the first Intifada we had no internet or newspapers that were free of control from the Israeli occupation," explains Ayman Muslih, a 36-year-old Gaza graffiti artist from the Fatah party who started painting when he was 14 years old.

"Graffiti was a means for the leadership of the Intifada to communicate with the people, announcing strike days, the conducting of a military operation, or the falling of a martyr."

The graffiti Muslih and others put up on Gaza's walls was strictly controlled by each political party and their respective communications wings. Select individuals were delegated to hide their identities by covering their faces with scarves and to brave the Israeli military-patrolled streets to put up specific slogans.

"Writing on the walls was dangerous," recalls Muslih. "I had good friends who were killed by Israeli soldiers who caught them." Spray paint colours became associated with each political group, with green preferred by Hamas, black by Fatah, and red for leftist groups.

The competition for popular support and leadership of the first Intifada was visually expressed in the amount of real estate each political party's graffiti was able to capture. First Intifada graffiti never developed too much artistically however because by nature it needed to be produced in as short a period of time as possible, to avoid detection.

Public gallery
The graffiti of the second Intifada developed more artistically than that of the first

After the Palestinian Authority (PA) established itself in Gaza in 1994, more traditional means of communication with the local population took root, including national newspapers, radio and television stations and mobile phones. While the more relaxed political atmosphere during the peace process was indeed more conducive to the retreat of political graffiti, the phenomenon never fully disappeared, perhaps because its function could not be so easily replaced by the traditional means and boundaries of political commentary.

The PA's arrival also created the conditions for graffiti to evolve qualitatively. The Israeli army's re-deployment outside most of the main Palestinian towns and refugee camps gave artists the time and space to better prepare and deliver their work. Thanks to a $5mn Japanese donation to the PA to white wash miles of Gaza's graffiti strewn roadways, a graffiti artist's perfect canvas and public gallery emerged. With the eruption of the second Intifada in 2000, Gaza's graffiti culture re-emerged in full force.

Arsenal of tools

The factional competition between Fatah and Hamas and the steady flow of Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation, created limitless material for graffiti artists who experimented with large murals commemorating the dead, or much smaller, but reproducible stencils.

Hamas particularly sought to take the discipline of graffiti art to new levels, seeing it as a part of the organisation's arsenal of tools to propagate its world view, including promoting a resistance agenda against Israel (as opposed to the negotiations approach of the PA), and propagating the Islamisation of Palestinian society. Hamas began offering courses for graffiti artists that trained them in the six main Arabic calligraphic scripts, known as al Aqlam aSitta: Kufi, Diwan, Thulth, Naksh, Ruq'a and Farsi. Delivery of high-quality calligraphy graffiti was part of the religious movements' more general reverence for the Arabic language, the sacred language of the Quran.

Tagging for the partyGaza's graffiti culture has just been documented in a new book by Swedish radio and photo-journalist Mia Grondhal, who has been visiting and reporting on the region for more than 30 years.

Although never previously the focus of her news reporting, Grondahl began paying closer attention to Gaza's graffiti during the second Intifada when she became increasingly impressed with its evolving quality.

"It was some of the best graffiti I've seen, especially the calligraphy," notes Grondahl. "This is mainly the work of Hamas who are very careful about how they write the Arabic language. Fatah artists do not feel the same because they are a secular party, and to them it's not so important how you write, but what you write." For Grondahl, Gaza's graffiti tells a story that goes beyond the typical catchphrases that tend to be repeated about the Strip and its people.

"Gaza's graffiti is so integrated into the society which makes it very interesting. You're not out there tagging just for yourself. You are tagging for the party you belong to, the block you belong to, for a friend who is getting married, or a friend who was killed. It's an expression of the whole range covering life to death."

All photographs by Mia Grondahl.Mia Grondahl is a Swedish radio and photo-journalist based in Cairo. She is the author of Gaza Graffiti: Messages of Love and Politics (University of Cairo Press, 2009).
Toufic Haddad is a Palestinian-American journalist based in Jerusalem, and the author of Between the Lines: Israel the Palestinians and the US 'War on Terror' (Haymarket Books, 2007).
Source: Al Jazeera

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Radio Victoria Threatened Once Again

Radio Victoria received a new threat today by email sent out to 17 different people including the priest Padre Luis. The sender's email address is: and it says the sender is exterminio pacificrim.

The threat:
"we sent 2 into the hole, now the question is, who will be the third, maybe Father Luis or one from the radio, not a bad idea to continue with one of those big mouths at radio victoria, we are not playing around we demonstrated that we have the logistic capacity and financing to deal with whoever, it doesn't matter if you have a battalion of police taking care of you like dogs, we will do it when we like, the deaths will continue and no one can stop the vengeance that's begun, we prefer that the 3rd be someone at the "pinche" radio, we are not playing around, this is the new wave of warnings after taking care of Ramiro"

The Ramiro is Ramiro Rivera from the region near Radio Victoria. He was murdered on December 20, 2009.

Written by Hector Berríos
Monday, 21 December 2009

[Note: UDW first reported on Ramiro Rivera in August, when he miraculously survived an attack where he was shot eight times in the legs and back. A Real News report released at the time aired footage of a Rivera interview. The attack occurred weeks after the assassination of Marcelo Rivera (no relation) in Cabañas, El Salvador and marked the beginning of an open season on activists opposed to mining in the area. Here we re-print the testimony of Hector Berríos of MUFRAS-32, an organization that has accompanied many of the anti-mining groups in their struggle for justice. A longer article on the assassination of R. Rivera and its significance in light of the ongoing struggle against Pacific Rim's mining efforts is forthcoming. --ed.

December 20, 4:00pm - Hitmen gunned down and killed our compañero Ramiro Rivera Gomez, Vice president of the Comité Ambiental de Cabañas, [Cabañas Environmental Committee], in the Canton of Trinidad, city of Ilobasco, Cabañas. Rivera was a leader in the resistance against the Pacific Rim Mining Company.

He was active in raising consciousness about the company’s actions, and was one of the first persons who suffered attacks by Pacific Rim employees. On August 7th, 2009 Rivera was victim of an assassination attempt in which he was shot in the back eight times. It was a miracle, thanks to G-d, that he survived. This latest event can be added to the assassination of Marcelo Rivera, ASIC member, the threats to our colleagues at Radio Victoria, the kidnapping and assassination attempt of Father Luis Alberto Quintanilla, threats made against the director of ADES as well as those against the fellow members of CACA and MUFRAS-32.

It is most striking that two security guards, members of the Witnesses and Victims Protection Unit of the National Civil Police, were accompanying compañero Ramiro Rivera Gomez, and were unable to do anything to evade the death of our colleague.

Furthermore, neither suffered injuries and the assassins injured a fourteen year-old girl that was with Ramiro Rivera. We must remember that earlier this year, on Thursday, June 18, at the “El Molino”cut-off, in the municipality of Ilobasco, Department of Cabañas, environmental activist Gustavo Marcelo Rivera Moreno, was seen for the last time. His lifeless body was rescued from a well on June 30th, with clear signs of torture.

The forced disappearance, followed by torture and assassination of Marcelo Rivera, as well as that of Ramiro Rivera Gomez, is part of an increase in violence in the municipalities in Cabañas, ranging from death threats and kidnapping attempts against the men and women that have organized to halt the Pacific Rim mining project.

The violence that has fallen upon the communities is worrisome, but equally worrisome and outrageous is the disfunctionality of the State institutions that are charged with directing and carrying out criminal investigations, of which we can affirm by the response of the Organized Crime Unit of the Attorney General and the Sub-director of the National Civil Police, Officer Mauricio Landaverde, who in our meeting with him told us that we should stop speaking out and that these were all just common crimes.

The gravest thing that this Officer on various occasions has expressed, including in the presence of the head of the Organized Crime Unit of the FGR, Rodolfo Delgado, in an irresponsible and rushed manner, and without any investigation, was when he stated “that the [Marcelo Rivera murder] was the result of common violence and that there is no indication of intellectual authorship”. These statements have been made without following any other lines of investigation that would establish a true motive for the [Rivera’s] assassination, while the community has turned over sufficient evidence that points to intellectual authorship.

It is essential that we raise our voices to denounce these violent acts against our compañeros who oppose the death project that Pacific Rim is directing. At the same time, we must join in solidarity with the accompaniment actions of the communities that are struggling against Pacific Rim’s mining project, which is backed by various ARENA mayors across Cabañas, and who act with complete impunity as permitted by the authorities.

It is important to state that we have denounced to the PNC and the FGR the increasingly violent terror and harassment campaign that activists in Cabanas have suffered. So much so that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in a recent resolution called on the Salvadoran government to provide protection for the lives of the involved environmentalists. In the public event when the Chancellor’s Office was notified of this, I had the chance to observe the unwillingness of the PNC and the Technical Unit, who justified their unwillingness to provide protection.

I want to add here that the FGR last week sent notification to the Radio Victoria reporters that the security measures implemented to protect them were being withdrawn. These journalists have also been subject to threats, just like Ramiro Rivera, who had received public death threats… that were carried out. There is enormous indignation among the various grassroots organizations in Cabañas. The Pacific Rim Mining Company is currently suing the government of El Salvador for 100 million dollars and is initiating a terror campaign against those who oppose the mining project.[ed. Note: the correct amount is $77 million. However, a suit by the US-based mining corp Commerce Group against El Salvador is for $100 million.]

Will the assassinations of Ramiro Rivera Gomez and Marcelo Rivera Moreno go unpunished? Are we going to watch idly as they kill our compañeros and continue to get away with it? And when will the authorities of the “government of change” decide to take action to stop to these attacks?

Héctor Berrios
Movimiento Unificado Francisco Sánchez-1932 MUFRAS-3

This testimony was translated and adapted from the Spanish original by Jason Wallach.

HI EVERYONE, here is information on how to send an email or fax, and CISPES has asked that you send copies to them, PLEASE ADD ON THAT RADIO VICTORIA IS AGAIN BEING THREATENED, we have received 2 email threats and some text messages, so please add that on to this letter or include it in whatever you like, do it as an individual or your organization or both.
keep the pressure on. also a friend in chiapas is suggesting we start a Peace Camp, something they are doing in Chiapas to help protect the autonomous communities, international and national delegations coming and staying with the groups and organizations under threat, something like the old Peace Brigades, something to think about, but more international pressure and presence is needed!!!
thanks for all you support and efforts, take care, c*.

FAX: +503 2523 7170 - Attorney General Romeo Barahona's office
Señor Rodolfo Delgado, director of the Organized Crime Unit of the Attorney General´s office:
AND please send a copy to the Human Rights Defense Office to Señor Oscar Luna:
AND IF YOU CAN a copy to the CISPES office:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Community Radio in Guatemala

The indigenous peoples of Guatemala have kept their culture through 500 years of colonization, brutal repression, and, most recently, 36 years of genocide that killed 200,000 Maya. But where brute force failed, globalization is succeeding. Mainstream Western entertainment is now flooding Guatemala‘s airwaves, hammering home the 24-hour-a-day message that Mayans should abandon their languages, their clothing, their spirituality, and their identities. And the only thing holding back this tidal wave of homogeneity is a network of tiny 500-watt radio stations.
Cultural Survival is partnering with Guatemalan nongovernmental organizations to strengthen this network of 140 community radio stations across the country, many of which broadcast in one or more of the country’s 23 indigenous languages. The stations provide news, educational programming, health information, and traditional music, all reinforcing pride in Mayan heritage. We provide the equipment and organizational expertise; they provide the people and the passion. And it’s working: languages on the brink of extinction have come back into common use; marimba music that was being replaced with top-40 songs is being played again; and people are wearing the distinctive traje that defines where they come from and who they are. But the job has only begun. A loophole in Guatemalan laws allows the police to shut down stations and confiscate equipment, and they are doing this with increasing frequency. We need your help to shore up this fragile network of protection for Mayan communities and cultures.The project has five primary objectives:
•Pressing for reform of Guatemala’s telecommunications law.
•Strengthening community radio stations’ ability to produce quality content for broadcast to Indigenous peoples throughout the country.
•Training community radio volunteers with skills in journalism, lobbying, content creation, radionovela script-writing, and Internet use.
•Assisting the radio stations and the five radio associations to build a viable network to aid in the acquisition of needed news gathering, communication, and broadcast equipment.
•Building local capacity to sustain the project beyond Cultural Survival’s five-year involvement.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Abre Tus Ojos

Abre Tus Ojos is a weekly series on Nicaragua television, made by teenagers and for teenagers. In the past the series has addressed such issues as child labor and exploitation, teen health, AIDS and youth violence.

This is a report about the series and their award from UNICEF.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The May 2010 issue of "Telematics and Informatics. An interdisciplinary journal on the social impacts of new technologies"
is now available and presents a special issue on COMMUNITY MEDIA - THE LONG MARCH.

The new generation of media technologies and the success of the so-called 'Web 2.0' platforms has put at the centre of academic and industry discussions the participatory potential of internet-based media. 'Old' participatory platforms, alternative and community using traditional broadcasting or print outlets, though, have a long history of close involvement of their audiences in practices that have put communities' communicative needs at the centre of their everyday work and fought for the democratization of media systems. Despite their financial and organisational weaknesses as individual stations or projects, community media are being increasingly recognised as the third and distinct sector of broadcasting by recent policy and regulatory developments in Europe and across the globe. The contributions presented in this issue present the opportunities and challenges that are characterising the sector at this time, as the switchover to digital broadcasting platforms, and the need of constant presence at the European Union and Council of Europe levels to make sure that community media are considered with equal dignity among other broadcasters in media policy debates.

Practice based accounts also show the contribution of community media to intercultural dialogue, an impressive range of interactions with civil society organisations present in their communities, and the potential of giving voice to local and diasporic communities through innovative combinations of FM and web-based broadcasting. Finally, this special issue also shows evidence of the important role that civil society plays in the production of situated knowledge along, and in collaboration with, ongoing academic research in this area of study.

Guest Editors: Nico Carpentier & Salvatore Scifo Contributors: K. Jakubowicz, H. Peissl, O Tremetzberger, N. Jimenez,
S. Scifo, M. Sandoval, C. Fuchs, L. Hallett, A. Hintz, M. Santana, N. Carpentier, S. Tenner, A. Borger, N. Bellardi, T. Kupfer, F. Diasio and S. Milan

Online access:

Abstract of Introductory Chapter

The new generation of media technologies and the success of the so-called ‘Web 2.0’ platforms has put at the centre of academic and industry discussions the participatory potential of internet-based media. ‘Old’ participatory platforms, alternative and community using traditional broadcasting or print outlets, though, have a long history of close involvement of their audiences in practices that have put communities’ communicative needs at the centre of their everyday work and fought for the democratization of media systems. Despite their financial and organisational weaknesses as individual stations or projects, community media are being increasingly recognised as the third and distinct sector of broadcasting by recent policy and regulatory developments in Europe and across the globe. The contributions present in this issue present the opportunities and challenges that are characterising the sector at this time, as the switchover to digital broadcasting platforms, and the need of constant presence at the European Union and Council of Europe levels to make sure that community media are considered with equal dignity among other broadcasters in media policy debates. Practice-based accounts also show the contribution of community media to intercultural dialogue, an impressive range of interactions with civil society organisations present in their communities, and the potential of giving voice to local and diasporic communities through innovative combinations of FM and web-based broadcasting. Finally, this special issue also shows evidence of the important role that civil society plays in the production of situated knowledge along, and in collaboration with, ongoing academic research in this area of study.

More information on Telematics and Informatics available at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Part One: Interview with Lina Fruzzetti

Painting and singing stories told in scrolls (patas in Bengali) goes back to ancient times in India. For generations hereditary painter-singers (Patuas or Chitrakars) have been practicing their craft in the Midnapur district of West Bengal. In the village of Naya, 3 hours from Calcutta, many Chitrakar women have recently taken up the Patua craft.

Patuas are Muslims, and they tell the stories of Muslim saints (pirs and fakirs) as well as Hindu Gods and Goddesses, and offer devotion to saints at Muslim shrines. In the past they used to wander from village to village, receiving rice, vegetables and coins for their recital. They would unroll a scroll, a frame at a time, and sing their own compositions. But competition from other media eroded this way of life and nowadays the Patuas are trying to adapt to changing conditions.
A website about Naya and the Patuas is at
The website contains translated texts of the songs that are performed with the scrolls. This is the song about HIV/AIDS
Artist: Swarna Chitrakar
Listen, everyone, pay attention. I would like to talk about HIV AIDS
HIV came from the west & has infected hundreds in India.It is not an infectious disease. It spreads from 4 things:
Using the same syringe for addiction, using the same syringe for injection; from pregnant HIV carrier women. Or having unprotected sex with ‘infected’ women

In case these 4 things are taken care of, HIV will not occur. That is why I request the Doctors; the syringes for injection should be changed.
In case of blood transfusion, the blood has to be checked first.
If a pregnant mother carries a baby, it can be born infected.
I appeal to all Indians to use Nirodh condoms.
If anybody has AIDS, don’t keep it secret. Get admitted to the district hospital. You can test your blood in confidence paying Rs 10 in VCTC centers.

Lina Fruzzetti, a professor of anthropology at Brown University, has worked with the women of Naya. This is an interview made in her office in Providence, RI, in November 2009.
Interview Part Two Lina Fruzzetti Interview Part Three Lina Fruzzetti's page at Brown University:Within social anthropology, my specialty is in the relationship between kinship, marriage, and rituals and the meaning of the construction of gender in India. I have done extensive work on caste and the life cycle rites of Hindus; now I am addressing the recent structural changes to the institution of marriage and what constitutes the person. My research on nationalism and post colonial studies has taken me to a more comparative approach addressing the feminist movement, and the problems and politics of identity and citizenship within Islam and Hinduism. In addition to the primary research work in India, I also focus on East and North Africa communities.

My interest in visual anthropology took me beyond using films to teach. I co-directed four documentary films on varied themes and topics about the communities with which I work.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Proposal for Community TV in Canada

Cathy Edwards speaking about community TV in Israel.
CACTUS Offers New Cost-Effective Model for Maintaining and Increasing Local OTA Service

Ottawa (24 November 2009) In its submission to the CRTC hearing on November 25, The Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS) will propose a novel and cost-effective way to maintain, support and increase local programming content.

"As one of the three elements protected by the Broadcasting Act, community broadcasting must be community-controlled," says Cathy Edwards, spokesperson for CACTUS. "While Canada’s community radio stations offer intensely local content, our community television sector’s dependence on the cable industry has resulted in studio closures, reduced community access, and attempts to commercialize community channels to compete for advertising with local TV stations."

To give Canadian communities a true community alternative, CACTUS will be asking the CRTC to liberate the money earmarked for community access to an independent production fund directed at volunteer community TV boards. They would offer free over-the-air community TV, free training to community participants and free access on all platforms including new media. "We see community TV much like a public library. It should be the communications hub and active voice of Canadians in their cities and towns," said Edwards.

CACTUS believes that the coming analog-digital transition offers community TV the chance to develop a new business model, and to help remote private and public signals such as CTV and the CBC, remain available over the air to all communities, regardless of their size.

CACTUS is encouraging Canadians to express their views and support the community sector, by commenting on the CRTC’s consultation notice on community TV (Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2009-661). Canadians can write to the CRTC (CRTC, Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2) or file online at The CRTC’s dead-line for comments on this policy is February 1, 2010.

Contact: Catherine Edwards, (819) 772-2862

Friday, November 20, 2009

Digital Oral History from Durban

DURBAN SINGS is a regional audio media and oral history project with a story, an open platform for contributions and re-mixes from other listeners, and a trajectory of joining hemispheres via audio correspondence between listeners: building on a listening bridge between ‘grass-roots’ organisation of community, artists and activist groups of the Southern and Northern hemispheres.

“Its oral history aspect is about reclaiming the re-membering of our condition. (us = Azanians) and sharing this with global audience: the attempt in advancing an African theory of history.” (Motho)

Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph Haile Selassie (His Imperial Majesty, 1892)

We tend to privilege experience itself, as if black life is lived experience outside of representation. . . . Instead, it is only through the way in which we represent and imagine ourselves that we come to know how we are constituted and who we are.” Stuart Hall. (“What Is This ‘Black’” 30)

In the telling and retelling of their stories/ They create communities of memory/ History, despite it’s wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced /With courage, need not be lived again.
(Maya Angelou)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy

"The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy is a group of 17 media, policy and community leaders. Its purpose is to assess the information needs of communities, and recommend measures to help Americans better meet those needs.

"The Knight Commission sees new thinking about news and information as a necessary step to sustaining democracy in the digital age. It thus follows in the footsteps of the 1940s Hutchins Commission and the Kerner and Carnegie Commissions of the 1960s.

"But in the digital age the stakes are even higher. Technological, economic and behavioral changes are dramatically altering how Americans communicate. Communications systems no longer run along the lines of local communities, and the gap in access to digital tools and skills is wide and troubling.

"The Commission seeks to start a national discussion – leading to real action. Its aims are to maximize the availability and flow of credible local information; to enhance access and capacity to use the new tools of knowledge and exchange; and to encourage people to engage with information and each other within their geographic communities."

The Knight Foundation has been criticized for its connection with U.S. national security agencies.
This from
"The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (also known as the Knight Foundation), is a major supporter of seemingly "independent" media projects, and was created in 1940 with monies generated from the Akron Beacon Journal. Since 2005, the president and CEO of the foundation has been Alberto Ibarguen, the former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Ibarguen maintains impressive democracy-manipulating credentials, as he is a US member of the imperialist Inter-American Dialogue, board member of the CIA-linked Council on Foreign Relations, and has held high-level appointments within a number of media-manipulating groups like the Freedom Forum's Newseum, and the Inter American Press Association. Ibarguen, however, is a board member of the newly formed and ostensibly progressive investigative journalism project, Pro Publica -- for a critique of this organization's work see "Investigating the Investigators: A Critical Look at Pro Publica."

The Knight Foundation supports a number of media projects, one of which is the Internews Network. This is a significant show of support as the Internews Network is a large media agency that has a long history of collaboration with the US government and the National Endowment for Democracy. Created in 1982, Internews, like CIMA, promotes a special brand of independent media; that is, media that is independent -- or free -- of any questioning of the hegemonic US media.(4) In 2005, the president of Internews, David Hoffman, co-wrote an article (with conservative commentator Helle Dale) in which he observed that his network played a crucial role in the "war of ideas," a war that he believes should rely upon the "two pillars of American democracy -- free enterprise and free media."

This commentary is part of an article by Michael Barker entitled: "Global Media Managers"

(Swans - March 9, 2009) On January 13, 2009, the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), a recently formed international media manipulator, released a report titled, "Soft Censorship: How Governments Around the Globe Use Money to Manipulate the Media." The report documents the manner in which various governments manipulate media systems within their own countries (e.g., the Ukraine and Chile). Significantly the report fails to identify the US government's extensive efforts to manipulate media systems in those same countries or the conduct of CIMA itself. When it is revealed that CIMA is a project of the US government's CIA-inspired National Endowment for Democracy (NED) this failure is contextualised. For example, by providing strategic support to local media projects the NED played a key role in facilitating Ukraine's Orange Revolution (in 2005), and in catalysing the ouster of Chile's resident dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1987. (1)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Philadelphia Finally Gets Public Access !
The mission of the PhillyCAM (Philadelphia Community Access Media) is to provide Philadelphia residents and organizations with the opportunity to communicate with each other through the creation and distribution of non-commercial media. PhillyCAM provides residents and community organizations access to media-making tools and training and opportunities for interaction between diverse communities.The purpose and intent of the PhillyCAM is to operate a vibrant community media center in Philadelphia which is accessible and welcoming to all residents and provides a valuable means for people to gain access to and training in the use of new digital media technologies, including computers, Internet, radio, video, and television, that enable people to address the diverse social and cultural needs of their communities. All Philadelphians, not just the influential, will have the opportunity to make and watch programs about themselves, their lives, and interests, as well as utilize other new technologies.

What’s Public Access?
Public access is a system on cable television, which provides people with access to equipment and training to make and broadcast their own non-commercial programs, publicize their activities or get their message out without having to buy airtime.Godfather of Access, George Stoney and Gretjen Clausing, Director of Philly's new access center.

The public receives access to these facilities as compensation from the cable companies that are given the right to do business within a given municipality, including the use of public rights of way (sidewalks, telephone poles, etc.). This compensation is in the form of franchise fees that are paid to the City and an agreement to provide facilities and equipment and channel capacity for public access.

Public access cable is not the same as public broadcasting. Public or community access programming and content production is open to everyone in the community on a typically first come first served basis. Public access serves as an “electronic park” where people from all different types of communities have the opportunity to share their views and information on just about anything—arts and culture, sports, cooking, religion, education, local issues, national news, health concerns—the list is only limited by the people’s imagination

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rappers Crossing Borders

Ora Wise of the Palestine Education Project, Ras K'Dee of SNAG Magazine, and hip-hop activists Invincible of Detroit and the Narcicyst speak about their experiences organizing across borders, creating solidarity between communities of struggle, and being part of a new generation of activists forming their own connections.
From Grit TV, Laura Flanders' daily program on Free Speech TV.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Local Community Radio Act Barrels Ahead in U.S. Congress

This video is a statement from one of the Bill's sponsors made on October 8, 2009.
October 15, 2009: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has unanimously approved the Local Radio Freedom Act, which would potentially open the door for hundreds of new low-power FMs by doing away with third-adjacent channel protection for full-power FMs. The bill would also require the FCC to ensure that licenses are available to LPFMs as well as translators, based on the "needs of the community," and would end the ban on former pirate operators obtaining LPFM licenses.
The bill was approved last week by the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet in a 15-1 vote. The next step is a vote in the full House. A similar bill is pending in the Senate and is now awaiting action by the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee.

Last week, we were thrilled when the Local Community Radio Act of 2009 (H.R. 1147) passed out of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet by voice vote.

Tomorrow, community radio advocates may have more to celebrate. The full House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote on the Local Community Radio Act on Thursday, October 15 at 10 a.m.

After years of fighting to expand people’s access to the airwaves, community radio advocates are finally seeing the fruits of our labor. This is the farthest the bill has come since it was first introduced in 2005, bringing hundreds of communities around the country one huge step closer to running their own radio stations.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is chaired by longtime LPFM supporter Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). After the Committee markup, we expect the Local Community Radio Act to move swiftly toward a full House vote.

Community radio needs your support more than ever. Please call your representative today to say it’s time to pass the Local Community Act!

Halimah Marcus Prometheus Radio Project Development and Communications Assistant
Phone: 215-727-9620 x 510 Email:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amarc Statement re: Argentine Law

COMUNICADO DE PRENSA 13 de Octubre de 2009
Comunicado de AMARC-ALC sobre la aprobación de la Ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual en Argentina

La Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias, América Latina y Caribe (AMARC ALC) celebra la aprobación de la Ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual en Argentina y destaca disposiciones que garantizan la diversidad y el pluralismo en los servicios de comunicación audiovisual.

La aprobación de la nueva Ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual, por una amplia mayoría de 44 a 24 votos en el Senado argentino, convierte a este país en una de las mejores referencias en materia de marcos regulatorios para limitar la concentración de medios y promover y garantizar la diversidad y pluralismo. La nueva ley reemplaza a la de la dictadura militar impuesta en el año 1980.

La ley tiene como finalidad regular los servicios de comunicación audiovisual (incluidos la radio y la TV abierta), y se presenta como una norma comentada que incorpora legislación comparada y las recomendaciones del Sistema Interamericano de Derechos Humanos.

AMARC ALC destaca que los fundamentos y objetivos principales de la nueva norma sean la promoción de la diversidad y el pluralismo, así como la desconcentración y fomento de la competencia, tal como recomiendan los organismos internacionales de defensa y promoción de la libertad de expresión.

Uno de los aspectos sobresalientes es el establecimiento de diversas y efectivas medidas para limitar e impedir la concentración indebida de medios. Entre ellas, los topes a la cantidad de licencias que puede tener una misma persona o empresa (a nivel nacional y en una misma área de cobertura) y los límites a la propiedad cruzada de medios, en atención con las mejores prácticas internacionales.

Con el objetivo de promover la producción de una diversidad de contenidos nacionales y locales, la nueva legislación argentina recoge extendidos antecedentes de países europeos y también americanos al incluir exigencias mínimas de producción nacional, local y propia, así como condiciones precisas para la formación de cadenas de emisoras, para limitar la centralización y uniformización de la programación en unos pocos grupos empresariales de la ciudad capital hacia el resto del país.

Otro aspecto a destacar es el reconocimiento expreso de tres sectores: estatal, comercial y sin fines de lucro, garantizando la participación de las entidades privadas sin fines de lucro con una reserva de 33% del espectro radioeléctrico. No establece porcentajes de reserva para los otros dos sectores pero se incluyen procedimientos simplificados para otorgar licencias para los pueblos originarios que se incluyen como personas de derecho público.

Dentro del sector sin fines de lucro, la ley reconoce expresamente a la radio y la televisión comunitaria adoptando la definición propuesta por AMARC y otras organizaciones en los "Principios para un Marco Regulatorio Democrático sobre Radio y Televisión Comunitaria", como "actores privados que tienen una finalidad social y se caracterizan por ser gestionadas por organizaciones sociales de diverso tipo sin fines de lucro. Su característica fundamental es la participación de la comunidad tanto en la propiedad del medio, como en la programación, administración, operación, financiamiento y evaluación. Se trata de medios independientes y no gubernamentales. En ningún caso se la entenderá como un servicio de cobertura geográfica restringida".

AMARC ALC destaca que no se impongan límites previos y arbitrarios a los medios comunitarios, y se les permita el acceso a una diversidad de fuentes de financiamiento, incluida la publicidad comercial y recursos estatales. Como medios independientes que son, se apoya que se limite a un máximo del 30% de su presupuesto el financiamiento que estos medios pueden recibir de fondos públicos pues evita su captura y condicionamiento por parte de los gobiernos.

Asimismo, se considera adecuado que los mecanismos de asignación de frecuencias contemplen y prioricen entre sus criterios la función social, el apoyo a sectores vulnerables y a proyectos de interés social a través de la elaboración de pliegos de bases y condiciones específicos así como la realización de concursos diferenciados para el otorgamiento de licencias del sector sin fines de lucro.

Tan importante como el contenido de la Ley, a nuestro juicio, es el proceso de elaboración y debate de la misma. Es necesario mencionar que el texto toma sus aspectos fundamentales de una iniciativa ciudadana, anterior al actual gobierno, denominada "21 Puntos Básicos por el Derecho a la Comunicación", elaborado por la Coalición por una Radiodifusión Democrática, una alianza de organizaciones e instituciones sociales, sindicales, académicas y profesionales de Argentina.

También, que el proyecto de ley fue debatido en numerosos foros públicos, que hubo un intenso y extenso debate en los medios de comunicación y otros espacios públicos durante meses, y que se presentaron centenares de propuestas de modificación al anteproyecto puesto en discusión en marzo de 2009, muchas de las cuales fueron incluidas en el proyecto presentado en el Congreso. Posteriormente, durante el debate en la Cámara de Diputados se realizaron cambios significativos y positivos, entre otros, a la conformación de la Autoridad de Aplicación.

AMARC Argentina y el Programa de Legislaciones y Derecho a la Comunicación de AMARC ALC participaron activamente en este proceso y se congratulan que se hayan tomado en cuenta varias de las propuestas realizadas.

AMARC ALC hace un llamado a todos los gobiernos de la región de América Latina y Caribe a que tomen como referencia a esta nueva ley recién aprobada en Argentina, que consideramos un muy buen ejemplo en su materia, ya que contribuye a la democratización de nuestras sociedades.
ASOCIACIÓN MUNDIAL DE RADIOS COMUNITARIAS - AMÉRICA LATINA Y CARIBE AMARC ALC María Pía Matta. Presidenta AMARC ALC; Ernesto Lamas. Coordinador Regional AMARC ALC. Gustavo Gómez. Director Programa de Legislaciones y Derecho a la Comunicación AMARC ALC.

ARGENTINA: Opposition, Media Giants to Fight New Law

From IPS By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 12 (IPS) - While civil society groups celebrated Argentina's new broadcasting law, media giants threatened to fight it with a wave of lawsuits, and opposition lawmakers pledged to revise it after the next Congress convenes in December. In the new legislature, the result of June elections in which President Cristina Fernández's supporters lost their majority, the opposition will try to amend or overturn the law, which was approved by the Senate in a 44-24 vote early Saturday morning, after a nearly 20-hour debate. The president signed it into law later that day.

The bill, which stirred up a major controversy in Argentina, brought the centre-left Fernández into conflict with the leading media groups, as it curbs the concentration of media ownership. A broad network of social organisations, which had long been demanding a new media law to replace the one in effect since the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, loudly applauded the passage of the bill without modifications

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue said the new law set "an example for other countries" by guaranteeing access to the media by all segments of society. The new law represents "a stride forward in Latin America against the increasing concentration of media ownership," he said.

A number of prominent academics and human rights activists threw their support behind the law. Nobel Peace laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel told IPS before the Senate vote that approval of the new law was essential. "We cannot continue to have a dictatorship-era law, created by (dictator Jorge Rafael) Videla," said the activist, who is often critical of the Fernández administration.

"There is resistance because this law affects the interests of big corporations like Grupo Clarín, which waged a major campaign against its passage. But this is not a 'K law'," said Pérez Esquivel. The TN cable news station owned by Grupo Clarín, Argentina's biggest media conglomerate, dubbed the bill the "K law" – for former president Néstor Kirchner (2003-2007), Fernández's predecessor and husband.

"They have tried to depict this bill as a government law, but social organisations have been working for a democratic media law for the past 25 years," said Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his efforts in the defence of human rights during the de facto military regime.

Senator Ernesto Sanz, leader of the main opposition bloc, the Radical Civic Union (UCR), said that his party backed over 100 of the 166 articles of the law. But no agreement was reached on amendments to the other clauses, and the law was passed without modifications. Grupo Clarín - which owns more than 250 newspapers, radio stations, TV channels and cable stations - and other large media companies fought the new law tooth and nail, and the political opposition echoed their complaints that the new legislation would give Fernández and Kirchner greater influence over the media.

"Kirchner Now Has Law Granting Control over Media" was the front page headline in Clarín, the country's leading newspaper, on Saturday. Senator Sanz said the law is "bad" because it will unleash a flood of lawsuits by companies that will be affected by the change of broadcasting rules, although he added that it could be modified by the new Congress.

Since the return to democracy in 1983, civil society had been demanding new legislation to replace a dictatorship-era law under which a handful of companies have immense power over the media. Hundreds of human rights groups, community radio stations, universities and other civil society bodies joined together in the "Coalition for Democratic Broadcasting" to advocate a new law that would contain 21 specific points guaranteeing the right to communication and information. "This law was our project," the Coalition's coordinator, Néstor Busso, told IPS.

Thousands of members of the Coalition and of political parties, trade unions and student groups gathered outside of Congress Friday to express their support for the new law as the Senate debated, and celebrated when it passed.

The stated aim of the new legislation is to fight the concentration of media ownership by limiting the number of broadcasting licenses in the hands of media giants. It describes communication as a "public service" and will diversify the airwaves by reserving one-third of licenses each for non-profit organisations, state broadcasters and private companies.

In addition, it stipulates that at least 70 percent of radio content and 60 percent of television programming must be produced in Argentina, while requiring that cable TV stations carry channels run by trade unions, universities, indigenous groups and other social organisations.

In the lower house of Congress, the ruling party agreed to 200 modifications of the bill, which brought left-wing parties on board. The draft law made it through the lower house in September with a vote of 146-three, with three abstentions, as the opposition boycotted the vote. In the Senate, the biggest controversy was over allegations that the new law expanded government control over the media, even though executive branch influence was limited thanks to lobbying by leftist parties in the lower house, which increased the participation by not-for-profit organisations.

The new regulatory and licensing body that will replace the federal commission created by the dictatorship and controlled by the government of the day will have seven members: two designated by the executive branch, three elected by Congress and two named by a federal body made up of experts.

The one-year deadline for companies to shed broadcasting licenses over the limit also drew fire, with the opposition arguing that the firms will be forced to sell at unreasonably low prices, and that the licenses could be picked up by government cronies at bargain prices.

In a column published by the Perfil newspaper, Professor Eliseo Verón wrote that "deep-down, the fierce struggle for a new media law is a huge effort on the part of the government to recuperate power, aimed at stripping its enemies of certain media businesses to hand them over to its friends."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Senado argentino aprueba ley que democratiza las comunicaciones

Fernández dio a conocer durante una rueda de prensa que el decreto ya fue publicado en Boletín Oficial. (Foto: Archivo)
La norma de Comunicación Audiovisual que fue aprobada por el Senado argentino y promulgada el sábado, ya fue publicada en el Boletín Oficial por la mandataria Cristina Fernández. Esta norma sustituirá a la ley 26 mil 522 de Radiodifusión de la dictadura.

TeleSUR Sábado, 10 de Octubre de 2009 / 09:15 h

El Senado argentino aprobó este sábado en una votación histórica la Ley de Comunicación Audiovisual que reemplaza la 22.285 de la dictadura militar, donde no se contemplaba la democratización del espectro radioléctrico. El resultado general arrojó 44 votos a favor y 24 en contra.

El proyecto quedó convertido en Ley a las 06H10 locales de este sábado, en un maratónico debate que se extendió por 20 horas, y que inició el viernes a media mañana.

En total el proyecto recibió 44 votos a favor y 24 en contra y, según la estatal agencia de noticia Télam, fue apoyado por el Frente para la Victoria y algunos legisladores de la oposición.

Durante el encuentro varios senadores del oficialismo y la oposición intercambiaron opiniones sobre la norma enviada por el Poder Ejecutivo al Congreso el pasado 27 de agosto.

El senador del oficialismo, Nicolás Fernández, instó al abrir el debate a las 10H30 hora local, a "romper con la dictadura" de las empresas periodísticas y planteó que los medios de comunicación "deben ser el vehículo de la realidad" pero no "constructores de una realidad capciosa".

Entre tanto, la senadora de la Coalición Cívica, María Eugenia Estensoro, cuestionó la norma y dijo que "con esta ley se propone una televisión con fronteras para los medios privados, pero la única que no va a tener fronteras es la voz del gobierno".

La senadora del Frente para la Victoria por Entre Ríos, Blanca Osuna, aseguró que "es una muy buena ley", que apunta a "construir una nueva cultura social" ya que partir de esta iniciativa "se adecuan mecanismos de regulación".

Una vez que sea promulgada, esta Ley regulará los servicios de comunicación audiovisual y garantizará la democracia, los derechos humanos y el pluralismo en los medios en Argentina.

Además esta norma le otorga un 33 por ciento del espectro radioeléctrico al sector comunitario sin fines de lucro, y limita a los monopolios comunicacionales.

La ley ha sido muy resistida por los grupos mediáticos de Argentina, principalmente por el Grupo Clarín, que verá reducido los privilegios monopólicos de los que ha gozado durante la vigencia de la ley de medios aprobada por la dictadura argentina.

También este instrumento legal por completo, ordena que las concesiones para la transmisión en medios audiovisuales sean de 10 años y luego de ese periodo serán revisadas por la nueva Autoridad Federal de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual.

El 18 de marzo, la presidenta argentina Cristina Fernández encabezó el acto para presentar la reforma de la Ley de Radiodifusión que fue aprobada por la última dictadura militar en 1980. Posteriormente se efectuaron más de cien foros de debate en toda la nación suramericana donde participaron cerca de 12 mil personas y se escucharon inquietudes y propuestas.

El proyecto de Ley de comunicación audiovisual fue enviado el 27 de agosto por Fernández al Congreso, para reemplazar la ley 22.285. La Cámara de Diputados debatió el proyecto el 17 de septiembre y le dio media sanción con 147 votos favorables, 4 negativos y una abstención.

La Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) aprueba la protección y promoción del derecho a la libertad de opinión y expresión de la nueva Ley, así lo expreso su relator especial el guatemalteco Frank La Rue.

Estela de Carlotto on the New Media Law in Argentina

From Democracy Now:

Argentina has enacted a media reform bill aimed at undoing dictatorship-era rules that left a handful of companies in control of national broadcasting. The bill allocates two-thirds of the broadcast spectrum to non-commercial stations, limits the number of licenses any one company can hold, and promotes Argentine-made content. The bill was based on a proposal written by a coalition of Argentine community media, human rights groups, unions and progressive academics. President Cristina Fernandez quickly signed it into law following its approval by the Argentine Senate. Estela de Carlotto of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo was among thousands to celebrate outside Congress.
Estela de Carlotto: “Everyone will have the opportunity to have a form of communication for the dignity of the people. Culturally, it is good; the advancement of freedom of expression is good. Celebrating here, we are all together. The Grandmothers are a part of these people that never ever gave up.”

Argentine Senate Overwhelmingly Approves Media Law

By MAYRA PERTOSSI - Associated Press Writer
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Argentina's Senate overwhelmingly approved a law that will transform the nation's media landscape on Saturday, and President Cristina Fernandez quickly signed it into law.
Senators voted by a surprisingly high 44-24 margin for the law, celebrating the end of dictatorship-era rules that enabled a few companies to dominate Argentine media. Opponents say it instead gives the government too much power and will curtail freedom of speech.
The new law preserves two-thirds of the radio and TV spectrum for noncommercial stations, and requires channels to use more Argentine content. It also forces Grupo Clarin, the country's leading media company, to sell off many of its properties.
Government's supporters celerate outside the National Congress building in Buenos Aires, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009. Argentina's Senate overwhelmingly approved a law that will transform the nation's media landscape on Saturday, and President Cristina Kirchner said she would sign it immediately.

"The initiative is moderate and democratic," said Sen. Miguel Angel Pichetto, a ruling party leader, during nearly 20 hours of uninterrupted debate that ended Saturday morning. "It allows for companies to have an adequate position, but not a dominant one."
Opponents say the new law simply replaces a media oligopoly with a state monopoly - and will enable investors with close ties to the president and her husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, to snap up media properties at low prices in forced sales.
Outside Congress, thousands of supporters celebrated in the plaza with chants, applause, fireworks and booming drums. The demonstration was organized by government supporters and included political activist Maximo Kirchner, son of the first couple.
Ruling party Sen. Liliana Fellner said the law does away with a vestige of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship.
"We are settling an old debt with democracy," she said.
The commission applying new regulations and granting (or canceling) radio and television licenses will have seven members, include two designated by the executive branch, three by Congress and two by a federal body representing provincial governments. This should ensure ruling party control, which opponents fear will be used to threaten and censure critics.
Most affected is Grupo Clarin, one of Latin America's leading media companies. Within one year, it must sell off radio stations, television channels and part of its dominant cable TV network to comply with new ownership limits.
"The government is going after the media with all its remaining power," Clarin Editor Ricardo Roa wrote Saturday. "It has rushed through a misleading law that seems to be progressive but in reality only sets us back: it will promote a press that is weaker and more docile."
The lopsided Senate vote makes it unlikely the law will be overturned when Fernandez loses supporters in a new Congress, starting Dec. 10. A two-thirds majority in needed to overcome her veto.
The new law imposes more frequent licensing approvals, and requires that at least 70 percent of radio content and 60 percent of television content be produced in Argentina. It also requires cable TV companies to carry channels operated by universities, unions, indigenous groups and other non-governmental organizations.
Clarin and other media companies will now go to the courts, saying the new limits violate constitutional property protections. Cabinet Chief Anibel Fernandez said Saturday that "this is the right of any citizen."
Associated Press Writer Vicente Panetta contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Alfonso Gumucio Dagron on the Our Media Conference

La red NuestrosMedios

Dos aportes sobre comunicación y cambio social. Alfonso Gumucio Dagron presenta la experiencia de la red NuestrosMedios, una iniciativa internacional de artistas, académicos y activistas vinculados con la comunicación.

Por Alfonso Gumucio Dagron *
Desde Guatemala

NuestrosMedios o OurMedia es una red internacional de activistas, académicos y artistas –la única de esta naturaleza– vinculados con la comunicación para el cambio social, que se reunió nuevamente a fines de julio en Río Negro, cerca de Medellín, Colombia.

Esta fue la octava conferencia de esta red sui generis, que comenzó el año 2001 en Washington DC, por iniciativa de John Downing y de Clemencia Rodríguez, con una discreta reunión de cuarenta especialistas de la comunicación, ya que muchos de ellos asistían a otra conferencia internacional. Desde entonces, la red se ha expandido y fortalecido en cinco continentes.

El año 2002, en Barcelona, NuestrosMedios era todavía una red relativamente pequeña, enriquecida por la participación de académicos que asistieron al congreso de la Asociación Internacional de Estudios de la Comunicación Social (Aiecs). Allí se decidió crear una página web para afirmar la identidad de la red:

Al año siguiente, en su tercera reunión en Barranquilla, Colombia, se produjo su primera eclosión notable, gracias a la participación de dos centenares de estudiosos y estudiantes colombianos y la programación de dos días de diálogo y uno adicional para visitar experiencias comunitarias de comunicación para la paz.

Paulatinamente, la red creció en número de adherentes y también en la calidad de sus conferencias anuales. El programa de la siguiente, en Porto Alegre, Brasil, ocupó tres días de discusión y visitas a radios comunitarias, talleres de capacitación y producción de mensajes y alianzas con organizaciones locales de activistas de la comunicación participativa.

Por primera vez la quinta conferencia de NuestrosMedios se hizo en Asia, en Bangalore (India), de manera independiente, sin vincularse con otras reuniones internacionales. El programa se extendió cuatro días e incluyó uno dedicado a visitar el proyecto comunicacional de Budikote, una de las radios comunitarias pioneras de la India.

Australia fue el destino del siguiente encuentro, asociado a la Universidad de Western Sydney. Se recibieron más de 200 propuestas de ponencias, de 35 países, y entre los participantes había activistas de 50 organizaciones y movimientos sociales y académicos de 60 universidades. Un importante documento redactado de manera colectiva, la “Carta de Sydney” (, delineó los objetivos de la red a la vez de establecer un diagnóstico de la comunicación ciudadana y participativa en cada región del planeta.

En su séptima conferencia, en Accra, Ghana, en 2008, la red se reunió durante cinco días, uno dedicado a visitar comunidades en el área de influencia de Radio Ada, pionera de las emisoras comunitarias de Ghana.

Finalmente, la reunión más reciente, en Colombia, agrupó a más de 120 participantes, entre ellos cerca de 40 internacionales, que llegaron de Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brasil, China, España, Estados Unidos, Francia, Ghana, Hungría, Inglaterra, México, Nicaragua, Noruega, Nueva Zelanda, Perú, Senegal y Uruguay. Durante cinco días, uno dedicado a visitar experiencias comunitarias, se llevaron a cabo plenarios, trabajos de grupo, proyecciones de video y talleres de capacitación.

Una de las características más notables de la red NuestrosMedios es su carácter horizontal y democrático. Carece de directiva y de institucionalidad formal, lo cual no le ha impedido hasta ahora demostrar una gran capacidad organizativa y de convocatoria. Al no disponer de financiamiento regular, la red opera con entera libertad y las decisiones se toman colectivamente.

Cada nueva conferencia se realiza a partir de la oferta que hace un comité local, constituido exclusivamente con el fin de garantizar la organización, la programación y la búsqueda de financiamiento, con apoyo de un comité internacional voluntario, que suele agrupar a quienes se han involucrado en la organización de anteriores reuniones. Esto significa que la sustentabilidad de la red depende exclusivamente de la voluntad de participación de sus miembros y del compromiso que voluntariamente adquieren para llevar adelante las actividades.

Los temas que son comunes a los participantes de la red NuestrosMedios parten de la necesidad de acercar la esfera académica a las prácticas concretas de comunicación para el cambio social. La red es ante todo un foro que propicia el diálogo sobre el fortalecimiento de la identidad, de la comunidad y de las alianzas; la participación en políticas y procesos de gobernabilidad; la diversidad cultural y de género, las diferentes visiones del mundo; el poder del arte y de la expresión estética; y el derecho a la comunicación de los pueblos, entre otros temas.

Las prácticas concretas de comunicación participativa, el activismo alternativo y la investigación comprometida con el cambio social son los puentes que permiten fortalecer los vínculos en la red, a la que constantemente se incorporan nuevos miembros, tanto de la academia como de los movimientos sociales y de comunidades indígenas. El carácter autorregulador y abierto de la red NuestrosMedios, así como la ausencia de un “centro” en la toma de decisiones, ha sido la principal garantía de su sustentabilidad.

Una de las iniciativas autogestionadas más interesantes de NuestroMedios es el Proyecto Global de Medios Alternativos, plataforma de comunicación en Internet que incluye un mapeo mundial de experiencias, una bibliografía especializada, blogs, cronologías de los medios alternativos y un “quién es quién” en la comunicación ciudadana y participativa. Para acceder y enriquecer esa base de datos basta ingresar a

* Comunicador boliviano. Especializado en comunicación y desarrollo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Threats against Radio Victoria in El Salvador

Received October 6, 2009: "This morning one of our community correspondents received a written threat outside the front door of his house, saying they were still around, that he better be careful, that it would be better to leave and mentioning different people in the radio and saying he better stop expressing opinions against mayors and national assembly deputies or we will all be sorry, soon they will kill another and that they receive orders from above.

We are denouncing this new threat and also threats against a young woman around 20 years old from San Isidro who was very close to Marcelo Rivera and Jose Beltran. She has been followed, had men outside her house in the middle of the night pointing to her bedroom and received a threatening phone call.

We ask again that you denounce these threats to the General Attorney´s office, his name is Romeo Barahona, in San Salvador:

please pass this around!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Struggle against Hate Media

The Seattle group Reclaim the Media staged a "Mad Haters Tea Party" over the weekend to protest the mayor of Mt. Vernon WA giving the key to the city to native son Glenn Beck.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Northern Visions' City Walks

Marilyn Hyndman from Northern Visions in Belfast, Northern Ireland sent links to their archive which is now on line.

Our Generation Archive launched...
Documenting the reminiscences, experiences, insight and appraisal of those who sought to build positive structures, resources and services amid, because of and in some circumstances despite the violence and the Troubles. Local people, historians, artists and celebrities take you on a conversational walk in the city to places, which have a special meaning for them as they consider the nature of place and allow us to explore new ways of seeing Belfast.

Endenderry Village
Built between 1866 and 1911 by the linen manufacturer John Shaw Brown, Edenderry is an excellent example of a semi-planned industrial community. Now a conservation area, Edenderry retains all of the charm and many of the features of a nineteenth century mill village. Learn about the history of this unique place and meet some of the people who worked to make John Shaw Brown's linen some of the finest in the world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Letter from Canada (French Below)

Illustration from an article entitled: "How cable companies and the CRTC’s lenience are killing what’s left of community TV"
....from the Fast Forward web site.

This is a letter from Catherine Edwards

Dear Friends of Community TV

1) CBC Television national is going to air a story tonight or tomorrow about the payout of $3,000 per person in Campbell River for the sale of their cable-cooperative to Shaw. This was a highly controversial sale last year, which was approved by the CRTC in a closed hearing in less than 10 minutes. Campbell River TV had just celebrated its 50th anniversary of programming.

2) A new community programming service on Les-iles-de-la-Madeleine just got its license--and for the first time in Canadian history--was awarded the 5% cable levy from Eastlink, because the company did not have plans to operate a community channel on the islands. However, not a week had gone by when 2009-544 was announced, which
exempts cable companies from seeking licenses in systems having fewer than 20,000 subscribers. (The previous limit had been 6,000, and before that... 2,000.) It's part of the CRTC's trend toward increasing deregulation, and another example of how community television continues to be negatively impacted by cable industry market conditions and regulations. The result for Television des Iles is that Eastlink is no longer going to provide the cable levy. See the CACTUS web site for more info.

3) If you're a community television organization and you haven't already done so, please list your organization on the CACTUS web site. As we start to get more press as we near the hearings, we need the site to be up to date... Just today, the CBC
reporter who contacted us was puzzled that there appear to be only five community television organizations in the country!

To post your information:

- a) Create an account (from the front page... you just pick a name and password for yourself).

- b) Go to "Create Content".

- c) "Create a Media Organization"

- d) Fill out the form... takes a minute or two at most.

If you have questions, don't hesitate to get in touch. Thanks a lot! It's important.

Cathy Edwards
Canadian Association of Community TV Users and Stations
(819) 772-2862

Chers amis de la television communautaires:

1) La Television Radio Canada/CBC (anglais) va montrer une reportage ce soir ou demain au sujet du $3,000 qui est en train d'etre payer a chacun des membres du cooperative CRTV (Campbell River TV) a l'ile de Vancouver, pour avoir vendu leur
service du cable a Shaw l'annee passee. Pour ceux qui n'ont pas suivi l'histoire l'annee passe, la vente etait tres controversial, mais elle etait approuve par le CRTC en moins que dix minutes sans question, dans une auditoire close.

2) La television des iles, la premiere "service de programmation communautaire" au Canada pour recevoir tous le 5% de cablodistributeur Eastlink, l'a perdu comme resultat de 2009-544. Voyez le site de web de CACTUS pour l'histoire complete.

3) Si vous etes un canal communautaire, s'il vous plait inscrivez-vous sur le site de CACTUS pour etre compter... on commence a avoir beaucoup de circulation. Aujourd'hui, par exemple, la journaliste de Radio Canada m'a demande "Pourquoi il y a seulement 5 canaux dans la liste? Est-ce qu'il n'y a seulement que 5 canaux communautaire au pays?" Ces visites vont augmenter pendant les auditoires, et nous avons besoin de credibilite. Merci!

Pour le faire:

- a) Creez une nouvelle compte (vous pouvez le faire vous-memes en choississant un nom et mot de passe)
- b) Choissez "Create Content"
- c) Choissez "Add a Media Organization"
- d) Remplissez l'information demandee.

Sous vous avez besoin d'aide, n'hesite pas a nous contacter... votre membre de TVR9, Francois Gauthier (la Vallee-du-Richelieu) a traduit la majorite de notre site comme benevole, mais pas tous les details.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orley Duran and Melba Quijano on the uses of definitions

From the Our Media Conference, Medellin, Colombia, July 2009

Juan Salazar on the Importance of Community Media

Alirio Gonzalez and the Escuela Audiovisual Infantil

At the recent Our Media conference in Medellin, Colombia, there were many discussions about the definition of community/alternative/citizens'/independent media. This is Alirio Gonzalez discussing how sometimes these definitions are used.
Colombia: The Radiocicleta, the Children’s Audiovisual School and community development
There´s a special bicycle moving around Belén de los Andaquíes in Caquetá, Colombia. It seats two and carries with it a complete radio broadcasting system, able to send out Wi-max signals and be heard not only through the Andaquí Community Radio, but live through Internet as well. This Radiocicleta[ES] (a portmanteau formed by the word radio and bicycle in Spanish) is part of a 10 year long community communication project meant to unite the diverse population of Belén de los Andaquíes which is composed largely by families running away from violence in their hometowns and neighboring regions, who stopped once they reached this safer haven they could call home.

Blanco Alirio González, the mastermind behind the Andaquí Communication Center and the Radiobike is aware that in communities where there are basic needs that still need to be fulfilled, technology has a tough battle to wage:

Es claro que en el proyecto de comunicación, el uso de las TICs deben aportar a la búsqueda de soluciones a esas necesidades básicas, nuestra pelea no es la sostenibilidad del centro de comunicación, o de la emisora, de la biblioteca o del telecentro, nuestra pelea es la sostenibilidad de nuestra cultura, el derecho a vivir en forma digna en un territorio lleno de riquezas que se disputan gentes de afuera y que son la madre de nuestros desarraigos, violencias y miserias.

It is clear that within this communication Project, the use of new information technologies has to bring solutions to these basic needs, our fight isn´t the sustainability of the communication center, or the station, or the library or the telecenter, our fight is for the sustainability of our culture, our right to live with pride in a territory full of wealth which is disputed by outsiders and that are the mother to our rootlessness, violence and misery.

Based on these ideals, the Community Radio of Andaquí was built to communicate the community with itself, to give them voices and an identity. One of the ways to get more people involved was to break down the walls between the studio and the town itself. Thus the Radiocicleta was born. This radiobike is a prime example of how they live up to their ideals: it is sustainable, it is cheap to maintain, it is environmentally sound, it is human instead of fuel powered, it allows for innovation and investigation, it can reach many different places and can be brought inside homes and it brings people together, working as members of a team: bike rider, speaker, audio operator in the cabin and the community at any event they are covering depend on each other for success.

This radiobike was only the beginning: once they were connected to Internet and had the tools to communicate with the rest of the world, they had to solve the issue of educating all Belemites in the use of these new technologies, while concentrating on the basics: they not only have the library and telecenter, but they also have a community vegetable garden and a media school for kids: at the Escuela Audiovisual Infantil, children can learn how to use technology and make a living from it.

La Escuela Audiovisual Infantil, está orientada a dar visibilidad a los niños de Belén de los Andaquíes, con quienes se busca “Contar lo que hacemos para descubrir hacia donde vamos”. Niñas y niños, desde los 8 años de edad, imaginan, escriben, dibujan, actúan, toman fotografías digitales, graban el audio, animan y editan en computador, historias de dos minutos de duración, en las que muestran las entrañas de sus vidas familiares y callejeras.

The Children’s Audiovisual School is oriented to give visibility to the children of Belén de los Andaquíes, through which they seek to “Tell what we do to discover where we´re going”. Boys and girls older than eight imagine, write, draw, act, take digital pictures, record audio, animate and edit using a computer their two minute long stories, where they show the innards of their family and street lives.

You can see the Children´s AudioVisual school´s pictures in flickr and videos on youtube. Currently, the children have started their own micro-business, and they are getting paid to train others and produce videos for clients such as UNESCO and CINEP.
Thursday, November 1st, 2007 Text from the Hiper Barrio Blog

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kiswahili and English Versions of Top 10 Myths About Civil Society Participation at ICANN

Grace Mutung’u (Bomu) is a young Kenyan lawyer who has been part of the Kenya ICT policy process since 2005. She works with theatre companies as an actor, marketer and cultural policy advocate. She is currently taking a course Intellectual Property Law and the Internet at Diplo Online Campus.
“Porojo Kumi maarufu zaidi kuhusu uhusikaji wa mashirika ya shirika
la ICANN”, na NCUC 21 Agosti 2009
Porojo ya Kwanza
“Masirika ya kijamii hayatahusika kwenya ICANN chini ya mpango uliopendekezwa na NCUC.”

Uwongo: Wafanyakazi wa ICANN na wengine wanadai kwamba mashirika ya kijamii hukatwa tamaa yasijihusishe na ICANN
kwa vile mpango uliopendekezwa na ICANN hauhakikishi kwamba viti katika Kamati ya GNSO vitagawiwa maeneo au washikadau wote.

Ukweli wa mambo ni kwamba uanachama wa NCUC unawakilisha mashirika 143 yasiyo ya kibiashara pamoja na watu binafsi. Tangu mwaka 2008 uanachama wa NCUC umeongezeka kwa zaidi ya 215% - hii ni kwa mujibu wa mwito wa mashirika ya kijamii. Hakuna shirika hata moja lisilo la kibiashara lililotoa maoni kwamba kuwepo tu kwa viti vya maeneo katika Kamati ya GNSO ndipo kungewafanya kushiriki kwenye ICANN. Katika mashirika yaliyotoa maoni yao, hakuna lilisosema ya kwamba lingeshiriki kwenye ICANN sharti katiba ya NSCG ingewahakikishia kiti kwenye Kamati ya GNSO.

Porojo ya Pili
“Wengi zaidi kutoka mashirika ya kijamii watashiriki kwenye ICANN Bodi itakapoingilia”

Picha ya kweli: Kulazimisha kwa Bodi kwa katiba yake au kutosikiliza kwa Bodi kwa vikundi vya mashirika ya kijamii kutaonekana kama kukataliwa kwa maoni ya vile vikundi vingi vilivyoonelea kwamba ni hii ni dhuluma dhidi ya mashirika ya kijamii. Sifa ya ICANN kati ya mashirika yasiyo ya kibiashara itaharibika kabisa hatua mwafaka isipochukuliwa au suluhu kupatikana. Hata kama vitendo hivyo vingekubalika, matokeo kamili kwa wafanya kazi na kwa katiba ya NCSG itakuwa kuvinyima nguvu vikundi visivyo vya kibiashara na kuvifanya hata visipende kushiriki. Kuteuliwa kwa waakilishi na Bodi hufurutisha vikundi visivyo vya kibiashara na watu binafsi. Isitoshe, SIC inayowakilisha maeneo au washika dau wote inahitaji fedha nyingi sana ambayo mashirika mengi yasiyo ya kibiashara hayawezi kusimamilia. Pia, mpangilio huo utaleta mgawanyiko kati ya vikundi huku vikipigania wanachama na kura. Vikundi vingi visivyo vya kibiashara havitaweza kuingia ICANN GNSO chini ya mpango huo.

Porojo ya Tatu
Kuwepo kwa upinzani kunaweza kupuuzwa tu kama “kampeni ya uandikaji barua”

Hii ni shutma isiyo ya kweli: Upinzani mkali wa mashirika ya kijamii kwa katiba ya SIC ulitokea si mara moja bali mara mbili. Pia, kulikuwa na ongezeko kubwa la wanachama wa NCUC lililotokana na kutopendezwa kwa jamii yote kwa jumla na vitendo vya wafanyakazi pamoja na Bodi. Kujaribu kupunguza ushiriki wa mashirika ya kijamii hakutafanikiwa na kunaonyesha upotovu huu wa hali ya juu. ICANN inahitajika kuwa na nyakati za maoni ya umma kwa maana ni lazima isikize na kujibu maswala ya jamii. Maoni ya umma hutokana na kuwepo kwa mawasiliano na mazungumzo kuhusu hata maswala tata, hata kama ni miito ya kuchukua hatua. Hakuna mpango au sheria inayoipa ICANN au wafanyakazi wake uwezo wa kuamua kutotilia maanani au kupuuza vikundi karibu vyote vilivyoonyesha kutaka kushiriki kwenye marekebisho ya GNSO, eti kwa sababu wamewashutumu wafanyakazi wa ICANN.

Jaribio la ICANN la kutaja maoni haya ya muhimu kama “kampeni ya uandikaji barua” inapuuza ushiriki wa siku zijazo na imani katika mipango ya ICANN ya kuhusisha umma.

Porojo ya Nne
"Mashirika ya kijamii yamegawanyika kuhusu swala la katiba ya NCSG."

Si Kweli. Hakujawahi kuwa na maoni ya umma yaliyoegemea upande mmoja kama haya katika historia ya ICANN. Hata kama wafanyikazi wa ICANN wanaiambia Bodi kwamba mashirika ya kijamii yamegawanyika, maoni zaidi yanakataa katiba iliyopendekezwa na ICANN na kuiunga mkono iliyopendekezwa na NCUC. Wanabodi wanaotegemea habari kutoka kwa wafanyikazi wa ICANN pekee wanaweza kuamini kwamba mashirika ya kijamii yamegawanyika , lakini wanabodi ambao wanesoma maoni ya umma wanaweza kuona umoja wa mashirika ya kijamii katika kupinga kulazimishwa kufanya ICANN inavyotaka.

Porojo ya Tano
"Mashirika ya Kijamii yaliyoko kwa sasa hayawakilishi kamili washikadau wote"

Si kweli kwa vyovyote. Kwa sasa, kikundi cha mashirika ya kijamii, kijulikanacho kama NCUC kina wanachama 143 ambao kati yao 73 ni mashirika yasiyo ya kibiashara na watu banafsi 70 kutoka nchi 48. Hili ni ongezeko la 215% tangu kanuni ya uakilishaji wa wote ianzishwe.

Ushiriki wa jamii isiyo ya kibiashara umeongezeka na kwa hivyo si haki kusema kusema kwamba NCUC haishirikishi washika dau wote bila ya kusema hivyo juu ya jamii zingine. Hata mwaka wa 2006, utafiti huru uliofanywa na London School of Economics ulionyesha kuwa NCUC iliwakilisha maeneo mengi zaidi na pia ilikuwa na watu wengi zaidi tofauti katika kamati ya GNSO wakati wowote, na kwamba ilibadilisha zaidi wawakilishi wake katika kamati hio ikilinganishwa na jamii zile zingine sita.

Kwa upande mwingine, jamii ya wanabiashara imekuwa ikiwakilishwa na watu wale wale 5 kwa Kamati kwa muongo mmoja na kulipokuwa na mwito wa marekebisho ya GNSO, 3 kati ya wanakamati 6 wa jamii ya kibiashra watawakilisha Marekani.

Porojo ya Sita
“ALAC inapendelea mkataba uliopendekezwa na wafanyakazi wa ICANN kuliko ule wa mashirika ya kijamii”

Uwongo: Kiongozi mmoja wa ALAC alisema kuwa anapendelea maktaba uliopendekezwa na wafanyikazi. Wafanyikazi walichukua msemo huo na kuupeleka kwa Bodi ya ICANN huku wakidai kwamba ALAC inapendelea mkataba uliopendekezwa na wafanyikazi wa ICANN. Kwa kweli, taarifa rasmi iliyotolewa na ALAC na iliyopitishwa na na ALAC ilisema kuwa
wanachama wengi wa ALAC waliunga mkono pendekezo la “kulitenganisha swala la viti vya Kamati kutoka kwa maeneo ni jambo nzuri na mwelekeo mwema.”

Porojo ya Saba
"Mkataba wa NCUC utakipa kikundi kile kile kidogo viti 6 badala ya 3"

Uwongo: Kwa miezi minane iliyopita, NCUC imekuwa ikitangaza kuwa itajitawanya muda tu NCSG itakapoundwa. Haina maana kuwa na “jamii ya mashirika yasiyo ya kibiashara” na vile vile “washika dau wasio wa kibiashara” kwani haya ni maneno yenye maana sawa. Kwa hivyo, viongozi wa NCUC hawatakuwa na uwezo wa kuendesha NCSG mpya – uongozi mpya utachaguliwa. Chini ya mkataba, mashirika na watu wote binafsi watapiga kura kuchaga viti vya Kamati, na si tu wanachama wa hapo mbeleni wa NCUC. Masharti makali kuhusu uakilishi kutoka maeneo yote ya kijografia yatamaanisha kuwa wanaowania kutoka maeneo yote duniani watachaguliwa hata kama hawatapata wingi wa kura.

Porojo ya Nane
"NCUC haitagawana viti vya Kamati na jamii zingine za mashirika yasiyo ya kibiashara."

Si Kweli: Mkataba wa NCUC uliundwa ili kuwezesha mashirika yasiyo ya kibiashara kuwa na wawaniaji wao wa viti vya Kamati. Ikilinganishwa na uwepo na uanachama wa NCUC, jamii nyingi zenye ajenda zinazoshindana zitajitokeza. Kukua kwa maeneo kutoka mashinani hadi juu ni bora kuliko mwelekeo wa Bodi/Wafanyikazi- pia unafanana zaidi na mapedekezo ya BGC. Maktaba wa SIC unaelekeza uundaji wa maeneo kutoka juu na hii ni ngumu na inaipa Bodi uwezo uliozidi kuamua “ushirikishaji” au “umuhimu” wa washiriki wapya. Kwa vile uakilishi wa maeneo unategemea viti vya Kamati. Viti vya Kamati vikilinganishwa na maeneo, kila eneo litakuwa na mivurutano kuhusu kupewa kwa viti hivi vya Kamati

Porojo ya Tisa
"NCUC inataka kunyakua haki ya Bodi ya kupitisha maeneo”

Uwongo: Watu wanaosema hivi ni dhahiri ya kwamba hawajasoma mkataba uliopendekezwa na NCUC. NCUC inapendekeza kwambo Bodi iwe na uwezo wa kupitisha au kukataza maeneo mapya yaliyoundwa chini ya mkataba huo.

Pendekezo letu ni kuwe na na mielekezo ya kufuatwa (k.m nambari ya wagombea) kwa kuundwa kwa maeneo mapya halafu mapendekezo yatumwe kwa Bodi. Dhana ilikuwa kupunguza mzigo wa uundaji wa maeneo mapya kwa wagombea na pia kwa Bodi.

Mkataba uliopendekezwa na NCUC una mapendekezo rahisi sana ya kuunda maeneo mapya ukilinganishwa na ule wa SIC ambao utafanya uundaji wa maeneo mapya kuwa jambo gumu sana. Porojo ya Kumi “Azma ya kuwa na eneo ni kuwa na kiti kwenya Kamati ya GNSO.”

Uwongo: wengine hudai kwamba viti vya Kamati ya GNSO lazima vilinganishwe kikamili na maeneo haswa kwa vile eneo halina maana bila kuhakikishiwa kiti kwenye Kamati ya GNSO. Lakini, kusema hivyo ni kutoelewa umuhimu wa maeneo katika GNSO mpya, ambao ni kuwapa sauti na namna ya kushiriki katika utengenezaji wa sera –wala si kuhakikishiwa kuwa na mjumbe asiye hata na mori wa kuafikiana na maeneo mengine.

Viwili kati ya vikundi vitatu vya washikadau (Registries and Registrars) vilipitisha mwelekeo wa mkataba wa NCUC wa kutenganisha viti vya GNSO kutoka kwa maeneo, walakini NCUC imekatazwa kuchagua wajumbe wake kulingana na SG.

Ungana na NCUC
Mashirika na watu wote binafsi kutoka jamii ya wasio wanabiashara wanaalikwa kuungana na NCUC kwenye mpango ya utengenezaji wa sera za GNSO ya ICANN. Leta maoni yako kwa mazungumzo ya sera za mtandao wa Internet na usaidie kulinda watumizi wa mtandao wasio wa kibiashara kwa kushiriki kwa ICANN kupitia kwa NCUC. Ingia leo kwa kwenda hapa:


From The Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC) 20 August 2009
Myth 1
"Existing civil society groups are not representative or diverse enough."
Untrue by any reasonable standard. The current civil society grouping, the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC), now has 142 members including 73 noncommercial organizations and 69 individuals in 48 countries. This is an increase of 215% since the parity principle was established.1 Noncommercial participation in ICANN is now more diverse than any other constituency, so it is completely unfair to level this charge at NCUC without applying it to others. Even back in 2006, an independent report by the London School of Economics showed that NCUC was the most diverse geographically, had the largest number of different people serving on the GNSO Council over time, and the highest turn-over in council representatives of any of the 6 constituencies. In contrast, the commercial users’ constituency has recycled the same 5 people on the Council for a decade and upon the GNSO reform, the first 3 of 6 GNSO Councilors from Commercial Stakeholder Group will represent the United States.

Myth 2
"The NCUC charter would give the same small group 6 votes instead of 3." False. For the past 8 months, NCUC has stated that it will dissolve when the NCSG is formed. It does not make sense to have a "Noncommercial Users Constituency" and a "Noncommercial Stakeholders Group,” as they are synonymous terms. Thus, NCUC leaders would not be in control of a new NCSG – a completely new leadership would be elected. Under the NCUC charter proposal, all noncommercial groups and individuals would vote on Council seats, not just former NCUC members. Strict geographic diversity requirements would mean that candidates from throughout the world would have to be selected even if they could not get a majority of total votes.

Myth 3
“More civil society groups will get involved if the Board intervenes.” A complete illusion. Board imposition of its own charter and its refusal to listen to civil society groups will be interpreted as rejection of the many groups that commented and as discrimination against civil society participation. ICANN’s reputation among noncommercial groups will be irreparably damaged unless this action is reversed or a compromise is found. Even if we were to accept these actions and try to work with them, the total impact of the staff/SIC NCSG charter will be to handicap noncommercial groups and make them less likely to participate.The appointment of representatives by the Board disenfranchises noncommercial groups and individuals. The constituency-based SIC structure requires too much organizational overhead for most noncommercial organizations to sustain; it also pits groups against each other in political competition for votes and members. Most noncommercial organizations will not enter the ICANN GNSO under those conditions.

We encourage those GNSO constituencies who claim is NCUC is insufficiently large enough to deserve representational parity with commercial users on the GNSO Council to publish their own constituency’s current membership roster, as NCUC does at:

Myth 4
"NCUC will not share council seats with other noncommercial constituencies."
Wrong. NCUC’s proposed charter was designed to allow dozens of new noncommercial constituencies to form at will and to advance their own candidates for Council seats. Given the diversity and breadth of NCUC's membership, many different constituencies with competing agendas are likely to form. The organic, bottom-up self-forming approach to constituency formation is much better than the board/staff approach – and more consistent with the BGC recommendations. The SIC charter makes constituency formation very top-heavy and difficult, and gives the staff and Board arbitrary power to decide how “representative” or “significant” new participants are. Because it ties constituencies to Council seats, every new constituency instigates power struggles over the allocation of Council seats.

Myth 5
"The NCUC wants to take away the Board's right to approve constituencies."
False. People who said this have obviously not read the NCUC-proposed charter. NCUC’s proposal let the board approve or disapprove of new constituencies formed under its proposed charter. Our proposal simply offered to apply some simple, objective criteria (e.g., number of applicants) to new constituency groupings and then make a recommendation to the Board. The idea was to reduce the burden of forming a new constituency for both the applicants and the Board.

Myth 6
"ALAC prefers the ICANN staff drafted charter over the civil society drafted charter."
False. One ALAC leader said that she prefers the staff drafted charter. ICANN staff ran away with this comment and falsely told the ICANN Board of Directors that ALAC prefers the staff drafted charter. In fact, the formal statement actually approved by ALAC said that many members of ALAC supported the NCUC proposal and that “the de-linking of Council seats from Constituencies is a very good move in the right direction.”

Myth 7
"Civil society is divided on the NCSG charter issue."
Wrong. There has never been such an overwhelmingly lopsided public comment period in ICANN’s history. While ICANN’s staff is telling the Board that civil society is divided, the clear, documented consensus among civil society groups has been against the ICANN drafted NCSG charter and in favor of the NCUC one. Board members who rely only on staff-provided information may believe civil society is divided, but Board members who have actually read the public comments can see the solidarity of civil society against what ICANN is trying to impose on them.

Myth 8
The outpouring of civil society opposition can be dismissed as the product of a 'letter writing

An outrageous claim. Overwhelming civil society opposition to the SIC charter emerged not once, but twice. In addition, there is the massive growth in NCUC membership stimulated by the broader community’s opposition to the staff and Board actions. Attempts to minimize the degree to which civil society has been undermined by these developments are simply not going to work, and reveal a shocking degree of insularity and arrogance. ICANN is required to have public comment periods because it is supposed to listen to and be responsive to public opinion. Public opinion results from networks of communication and public dialogue on controversial issues, including organized calls to action. No policy or bylaw gives ICANN staff the authority
to decide that it can discount or ignore nearly all of the groups who have taken an interest in the GNSO reforms, simply because they have taken a position critical of the staff’s. ICANN's attempt to discount critical comments by labeling them a "letter writing campaign" undermines future participation and confidence in ICANN public processes.

Myth 9
“Civil Society won’t participate in ICANN under NCUC’s charter proposal.”
False. ICANN staffers and others claim that civil society is discouraged from engaging at ICANN because NCUC’s charter proposal does not guarantee GNSO Council seats to constituencies. The facts tell the opposite story. Since 2008 NCUC’s membership has increased by more 215% – largely in direct response to civil society’s support for the NCUC charter. Not a single noncommercial organization commented in the public comment forum that hard-wiring council seats to constituencies will induce their participation in ICANN. None of the noncommercial organizations that commented on the NCSG Charter said they would participate in ICANN only if NCSG's Charter secured the constituencies a guaranteed seat on the GNSO.

Myth 10
“The purpose of a constituency is to have your very own GNSO Council Seat.”
False. Some claim GNSO Council seats must be hard-wired to specific constituencies because a constituency is meaningless without a guaranteed GNSO Council representative. However this interpretation fails to understand the role of constituencies in the new GNSO, which is to give a voice and a means of participation in the policy development process -- not a guaranteed councilor who has little incentive to reach beyond her constituency and find consensus with other constituencies. Two of the other three stakeholder groups (Registries and Registrars) adopted NCUC’s charter approach of decoupling GNSO Council seats from constituencies. Only NCUC has been prevented from electing its councilors on a SG-wide basis.

All noncommercial organizations and individuals are invited to join NCUC and participate in policy development in ICANN’s GNSO. Bring your experience and your perspective to Internet policy discussions and help protect noncommercial users of the Internet by participating at ICANN via the NCUC. Join today:

ALAC - At-Large Advisory Committee
ICANN's At-Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) is responsible for considering and providing
advice on the activities of the ICANN, as they relate to the interests of individual Internet users
(the "At-Large" community).

gTLD - Generic Top Level Domain
Most TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs". They
can be subdivided into two types, "sponsored" TLDs (sTLDs) and "unsponsored TLDs (uTLDs),
as described in more detail below.

In the 1980s, seven gTLDs (.com, .edu, .gov, .int, .mil, .net, and .org) were created. Domain
names may be registered in three of these (.com, .net, and .org) without restriction; the other four
have limited purposes. Over the next twelve years, various discussions occurred concerning
additional gTLDs, leading to the selection in November 2000 of seven new TLDs for
introduction. These were introduced in 2001 and 2002. Four of the new TLDs (.biz, .info,
.name, and .pro) are unsponsored. The other three new TLDs (.aero, .coop, and .museum) are

GNSO - Generic Names Supporting Organization
The GNSO is responsible for developing policy recommendations to the ICANN Board that
relate to generic top-level domains (gTLDs). The GNSO is the body of 6 constituencies, as follows: the Commercial and Business constituency, the gTLD Registry constituency, the ISP constituency, the non-commercial constituency, the registrar's constituency, and the IP constituency.

However, the GNSO is in the process of restructuring away from a framework of 6 constituencies to 4 stakeholder groups: Commercial, Noncommercial, Registrar, Registry. The Noncommercial and Commercial Stakeholder Groups together make up the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bi-cameral GNSO; and the Registrar and Registry Stakeholder Groups
will together comprise the “Contracting Parties House” in the new GNSO structure (beginning Oct. 2009).

ICANN - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions

NCUC - Noncommercial Users Constituency
The Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC) is the home for noncommercial organizations and individuals in the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO). With real voting power in ICANN policy making and Board selection, it develops and supports positions that protect noncommercial communication and activity on the Internet. NCUC works to promote the public interest in ICANN policy and is the only noncommercial constituency in ICANN’s GSNO (there are 5 commercial constituencies). The NCUC is open to noncommercial organizations and individuals involved in education, community networking, public policy advocacy, development, promotion of the arts, digital rights, children's welfare, religion, consumer protection, scientific research, human rights and many other areas. NCUC maintains a website at

NCSG - Noncommercial Stakeholders Group
The GNSO is in the process of being restructured from “6 constituencies” to “4 stakeholder
groups”, including a Noncommercial Stakeholders Group (NCSG) into which all noncommercial organizations and individuals will belong for policy development purposes, including members of the Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC). The NCSG and the Commercial Stakeholder Group (CSG) will together comprise the “Non-contracting Parties House” in the new bicameral GNSO structure beginning October 2009.

NCUC Letter to ICANN Board and CEO on NCSG Charter Controversy:

Noncommercial Users Constituency (NCUC):

NCUC submitted NCSG charter proposal:

Robin Gross on “Is ICANN Accountable to the Public Interest?”:

ICANN GNSO Chair Avri Doria on “Why I Joined the NCUC”:

Internet Governance Project: “4 ICANN Board members dissent in vote on NCSG charter”:

2006 London School of Economics Independent Report on GNSO:

“Top 10 Myths About Civil Society Participation in ICANN” by NCUC 6