The importance of providing new channels for Arab voices will be the focus of the second annual community media conference for the Arab World, Aswatona 2013, to be held in the Egyptian capital Cairo February 25-28 and involving over 100 Arab community broadcasters and online media activists.
The conference has been organised by Amman-based Community Media Network and UK-based Community Media Solutions in association with UNESCO and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC). The event is supported by the Swedish Agency for International Development and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Daoud Kuttab, director general of Community Media Network says the conference aims at hearing media experiences from the Arab world, exchanging ideas and assessing the legal and administrative environment for community broadcasting: ‘In the past year we have helped establish seven community radio stations and we have produced legal studies on the media laws in various Arab countries.’
The conference will bring practitioners and media law activists together to forge ahead a path for accelerating community broadcasting in the Arab world. Speakers at the conference will include case studies on the success of online radio, on the empowerment of women through local broadcasting in conservative communities and on new ways to enhance popular participation in communications.
Steve Buckley, managing director of Community Media Solutions says: ‘Popular demand for freedom, social justice and political participation has grown across the Arab world and is finding expression through new community media initiatives and public pressure for reform of outdated media laws.’
The conference in Cairo follows the first Aswatona conference held in cooperation with AMARC in the Tunisian capital in March 2012. Participating radio stations include Horytna Bahri from Alexandria, Dahriya Radio in Palestine, Sawt Al Aghwar from Jordan, Yemen Times Radio from Sanaa’a, ANA radio for Syrians in exile, Voice of the Mines radio from Gafsa, Tunisia and AWAL radio from Libya. Media practitioners from Algiers, Morocco and Bahrain are among the other countries participating.