The Practice Inspires

Why are some non-commercial broadcasters successful and others are not? Are there some common characteristics of outstanding educational and community radio stations? And can others learn from their example?

Highlighting the importance of positive examples for shared learning, CAMECO encouraged the Latin American Association for Radio Education ALER (Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica) in 2003 to develop a study on "inspiring practices" in community and educational broadcasting. The aim of the study was threefold: to make outstanding local experiences known to a wider audience, to show the broad variety of approaches in non-commercial broadcasting in Latin America, and to describe some key factors of successful non-profit broadcasting.

The result of this project is the book "La Práctica Inspira" ("The Practice Inspires", only available in Spanish, partly online at: http://www.aler.org/lpi/fscommand/lpi/info/index.htm).

The major part of the book tells the stories of 32 outstanding community radio stations in 13 Latin American countries, giving an insight into their respective philosophy and history, programme policy and audience relationship. A second part highlights the common "success factors" of these stations: a clear mission, a participatory communication strategy, grounded in a sound social, institutional and economic sustainability. For the time being, "La Práctica Inspira" is the broadest sample of concrete case studies and overview of lessons learned in Latin American community and educational broadcasting.

Also in 2003 the first phase of the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS I) took place in Geneva (Switzerland), and therefore the Swiss faith-based donor agencies "Bread for all" and "Catholic Lenten Fund" decided to focus their information campaigns on "Communication and Development". CAMECO proposed to them to stress the importance of "skill-independent" media (i.e. also accessible for non-literates) within the WSIS debates on poverty reduction. This proposal resulted in the WSIS "Community Media Forum", a major parallel event at WSIS I, co-organised by ALER, the World Association of Community Radios AMARC, the two Swiss donor agencies, and CAMECO. The Forum presented the lessons learned from "The Practice Inspires" to an international public and discussed the contribution of community broadcasting to the Information Society.

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