conference in November 2001
in April and May 2001
In order to discuss and
develop the idea of Polyphonia, Radio Dreyeckland, Radio Ondarossa, Radio
Orange 94,0 and Radio Contrabanda organized conferences in their respective
countries in April and May. Representatives of other community radio stations
as well as other groups and organizations were invited to these conferences.
The Polyphonia radio stations were in agreement that above all the conferences
should be utilized to support the networking of production teams from various
community radios who focus on discrimination and to make a direct exchange
of information and contact among representatives of organizations possible.
As far as the partner
radio stations were concerned each had a different thematic focus and target
groups in mind. These differences were due to the varying situations of the
radios in their countries, to current topics and of course to the individual
priorities of the stations themselves. Radio Contrabanda, for instance,
considered it particularly vital to strengthen contact between community radios
and women's organizations, setting its thematic focus on the discrimination
against women migrants in Spain. Radio Orange wanted to use its conference
to facilitate exchange between community radios in Austria and representatives
of lesbian and gay organizations there; one reason for this being the fact
that Euro-Pride was to take place in Vienna in the summer of 2001. Radio
Ondarossa placed the political discussion surrounding discrimination and
the fight against discrimination in the forefront of its conference while
Radio Dreyeckland - together with representatives of groups dealt with
by Polyphonia: migrants, people with handicaps, lesbians and gay men - wished
to discuss the mixed approach to talking about and fighting against discrimination.
Independent of these differences
it was an aim in all of the conferences to strengthen old contacts and to
create new ones. Especially for those coming from outside the radios and who
had little or no experience with that medium these conferences were to initiate
collaboration and cooperation among those groups in general but on a national
level as well. In their own eyes the partner radio stations were in agreement
that community radio represents a very good foundation for offering minorities
a public platform. At the same time individual groups who are discriminated
against in various forms by mainstream society have few contacts (to one another)
and only rarely is there any kind of exchange among them as they are far from
being organized beyond these groups. Thus a common theme in all of these conferences
was how to utilize community radios to this end. On the one hand it became
clear that creating just such networks would not happen quickly, but on the
other hand new contacts and cooperative projects show that the conferences
were successful in bringing life to the concept.
Community radios against discrimination
European Conference in Vila Real, Portugal, 23 - 25 November 2001
At a time when the role
of the media in propagating stereotypes about cultures has become all too
apparent, not only the responsibility of the media must be critically examined,
but also the possibilities of using media in a way that guarantees autonomy
and voices to the marginalised sections of our societies must be re-defined.
From 23-25 November 2001, community broadcasters and social activists from
different European radios and media organisations gathered in Vila Real, Portugal
at a conference titled "Polyphonia: community radios against discrimination
in Europe". The focus of the conference was on campaigning and programme
exchange in the European community radio sector on anti-discrimination themes.
The conference also sought to bring NGOs and radios in dialogue, in order
that their co-operation in campaigning and public awareness work can be enhanced.
The conference included
presentations of existing models of good practice at local levels, such as
Freiburg based Radio Dreyeckland's co-operation with gay and lesbian
groups to do awareness raising programmes in schools and for the local community.
Barcelona's Radio Contrabanda and MigraMedia's efforts to train and
provide discussion forums for women and lesbian groups in Spain
Roman Radio Onda Rossa's broadcasts and campaigns for people in prison
low-cost, user-friendly Internet based campaigning strategies developed
by Viennese Radio Orange
Although community radios
in Europe broadly represent similar political standpoints in issues such as
racism, xenophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexuality or disability,
the formal and informal discussions that took place during the conference
proved that there were many controversial questions and debates as to how
exactly this political commitment should be put into practice. One of the
issues raised was whether it is possible to equate and find similarities between
different grounds of discrimination? While some participants felt it was necessary
to promote gays speaking up for migrants' rights or wheelchair drivers campaigning
against the deportation of asylum seekers, since they all had common experiences,
others questioned this approach and its implied notion of anti-discrimination
altogether. Another issue discussed during the conference was how and in what
ways new technology can be used by radios jointly, as a campaigning means.
There are currently several existing models of programme exchange, audio archiving
and live broadcasting in different regions of Europe, which are either language
based, or thematically arranged. Participants discussed how and whether these
energies could be pooled together more coherently. The differences and challenges
on a European level, to achieve this aim became apparent at the conference.
A working group of interested persons was set up at the conference, in order
to look into the question of making technology suitable to the themes that
radios seek to campaign about.
The conference, which
was financially supported by the European Commission Programme on Combating
Discrimination and the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
within the framework of the project "Polyphonia", was hosted by
Radio Universidade Marao, a university-based
community radio station in Vila Real, North Portugal and organised by AMARC
Europe (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters).