Community radio, the most prevalent of all community media, is a vital alternative both to state-owned and commercial private radio. Community radio's affordability and reach make it a powerful agent of social change.
A number of countries have introduced laws and regulations that acknowledge community radio as a distinct media sector. Nevertheless, despite these advances, challenges persist at global and regional levels.
WACC celebrates World Radio Day on February 15 -- a day dedicated to celebrating radio as a medium.Recently WACC introduced a new initiative in support of community radio as a means of helping marginalized and excluded groups to have a voice in society.
Community media are widely recognised by governments, international development agencies, and civil society organisations as key agents in participatory development. They represent a unique way of reaching and involving people.
The NGO Cultural Survival has noted that community radio partners in Guatemala are currently fighting for their right to freedom of expression through. A new bill in the Guatemalan Congress, Bill 4479, proposes a reform in the criminal code that criminalises individual actors and representatives of unlicensed stations, effectively penalising community radio with up to 10 years in prison.
This bill is a threat to dozens of community radio stations that base their existence on the promises made in the Guatemalan Peace Accords, the country's own constitution, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Since 1996 when the Peace Accords were signed, community radio has become an extremely important means of communication for Indigenous groups around Guatemala. Even in small villages without electricity, it is likely that most families will have a battery powered radio in order to stay informed on important issues, listen to traditional music, and educational programming.
On World Radio Day WACC affirms its upport for community radio as a means of strengthening the communication rights and public voices of poor, marginalized, excluded and dispossessed people and communities everywhere.