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Community Radio In South America

Community Rad  In South America

Community Radio Stations are owned, and driven by the communities they serve. No one can make money from Community Radio but in a community radio station, young and old,  with all abilities, backgrounds, and interests, can come together to make a difference to their community.


South America, the fourth-largest continent, extends from the Gulf of Darién in the northwest to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the south. South America has diverse agricultural products, vast mineral wealth, and plentiful freshwater. It also has rich fisheries and ports on three bodies of water: the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean. South America consist of 12 countries and has an area of 17,840,000 sq kms. Its population as of 2011 has been estimated as 385,742,554. Main languages spoken are Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch, French and also Arabic and Hindi.

List of countries

Argentina Community Rad  In South America

Dependent territories

Falkland Islands.
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

Socio-Economic and Political Climate

South America’s economic growth over the last half-century has prompted its cities to expand rapidly. The cities, however, often suffer from inefficient transportation and utility systems, pollution, and unregulated residential growth.

South American Politics in today’s world enjoys a certain democratic political rule but it is gained by the continuance struggle against the decades of dictatorship and the country has passed through a lot of political crisis. The Politics in South America has grown economically from the past 20 years but still
today the conditions are not in much proper shape as it was in the 1950s.

The percentage of women in South American Politics is 15% in the executive power and 13-14% in
legislative power. 5% of the total power in the municipalities is led by women folk. The contribution
of women has led to many developments. South American Politics is governed by numbers of political leaders who looks after all the aspects in the political arena, this region has gained a tremendous economic growth which is a great achievement in the history of American Politics.

The GDP of South America is US $18.6 thousand as estimated in 2013.
Community Rad  In South America

Existing Media Environment

Media in South America have traditionally been consolidated into the hands of a few wealthy families and large media conglomerates. Over the last decade and a half, however, several governments in the region, including Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Uruguay, have moved to democratize media.

These governments have redefined the concept of communication from a commodity to a people’s right. They have moved to redistribute the airwaves, prioritizing local community stations and passing laws to prevent the discrimination of marginalized groups in broadcasted content.

Political Controversy and Media

Late Hugo Chavez, Ex- President of Venezuela (1999-2013), has expanded state media and cowed private broadcasters. In the year 2010 he shut dozens of radio stations. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, described the media as his “greatest enemy” and  denounced journalists as “corrupt, mediocre, shameless”. He sent police to seize two TV stations in a debt dispute and promised to shake up the awarding of radio and television  frequencies.

South America’s media war started, and remains most intense, in Venezuela. When Hugo Chavez swept to power a decade ago, promising to oust discredited elites, the media feted him. But they turned with a vengeance and backed a coup that briefly ousted him in 2002.

Media Policies


In 2009, Argentina’s congress passed the Audiovisual Communications Services Law to change the unequal concentration of media ownership by redistributing broadcasting licenses among three sectors: 33% private, 33% public, and 33% non-profit.

The law limits the number of concessions any broadcaster may hold to 10 and establishes that concessions be renewed every 10 years instead of 20 so that licenses are recycled more frequently
and smaller outlets have more opportunities to compete. FM La Boca founded in 1986, is well known for being one of the first Argentine community radio stations. It has a team of over 20 professionals, among presenters, journalists, executives and producers.


The well-known example of community radio in Bolivia was Tin Miners’ Radio, funded by Trade Union dues. It first started in 1949 in the mining district of Catavi and in the next 15 years it was  followed by other districts.


Brazil currently has around 4,700 community radio stations, operating either with full or temporary authorization from the federal government. Up to another 1,300 stations that are  waiting for authorization to begin broadcasting. In 1998 a bill was passed that laid out criteria and rules that Stations are required to operate in low-powered frequency modulation (FM) up to 25W.


Community radio stations began to mushroom in Chile in 1990, when the 17-year-old military dictatorship came to an end, although there were stations operating since the 1970s. Today 420 community radio stations are operating here.

The first regulatory framework was passed in 1994 which had flaws and shortcomings involving  both financing as well as coverage. A new law, on Free to Air Community and Citizen Radio Broadcasting Services, was passed in May 2010. But it has not gone into effect. The new law expands the limit on broadcasting power from one to 25 watts, the height of the station’s antennas from six to 10 metres, and the length of the concessions from three to 10 years.


In Ecuador, many community radio stations are operated by religious groups and include Catholic,
Protestant and Bahai stations. The country has 1173 radio stations, of which only 19 (1.6%) are community radios. There are no anti-concentration rules or laws on media ownership, and no cross-media ownership limitations for domestic private and foreign companies. A diverse mix of public, private and community media is the only way to serve the needs of society.


The community media sector in Paraguay has a high degree of self-censorship, which is encouraged by direct pressure from powerful sectors of society and neglects the interests of marginalized groups more than 70 community radio stations broadcast daily across the nation.


In 1997-1998 Colombia awarded 464 community radio licenses to community-based organizations  formed to manage the stations in municipalities that did not have either a local public or commercial
broadcaster. The Ministry announced in 2005 that it will be awarding an additional 440 community radio licenses with a goal to have a community radio station in every municipality in the country. Broadcasting of advertising and sponsorship messages will be maximum of 15 minutes per hour
(this is the same amount as commercial stations are entitled to carry) and Donations from national
and international sources are allowed.


Radio Paiwomak which was set up in September 2000 is the first community radio in Guyana. UNESCO and National Communication Network are some of the funders of this radio station.


Peru’s media development landscape is uniquely characterized by prolonged funding of  community radios by the Catholic Church, beginning in the 1960s and continuing until today. The 1990s was detrimental for freedom of the press and media development due to the Alberto Fujimori government’s control over the flow of information. Two important laws were passed during the decade of the 2000s—the Transparency and Access to Information Law (2002) and the Radio and Television Law (2004).


Community radio began in Uruguay in the post-dictatorship years of the 1980s. Until  December 2007, however, these stations were pirate broadcasters that had been excluded from the country’s broadcasting system. Today, not only have these stations gained legal status, they have become active partners in the regulation of Uruguay’s broadcasting system.

In 2005, long-time members of the Uruguayan community radio movement estimated that there are 60 to 80 community broadcasters in the country, 30 to 40 of them in the Montevideo area. This estimate increased to 250 by 2008, and 413 stations responded to a census in 2009.


During the early days of the Chavez presidency and the strikes in 2001 that threatened to cripple Venezuela’s economy, it was community radio that provided an alternative forum to sustain democracy. Radio Perola, 92.3FM, is one of the eminent community stations.

After Chavez was elected in 1998, community media activists began to raise issues with regard to the right to communication. This led to the passing of a new law in 2000, entitled  Regulation of Community Radio and Television. This law gave communities the right to set up a station. There are talk shows, educational programmes, cultural shows, sports segments, local history programmes, children’s shows, cooking shows, and a variety of music programmes, including salsa, bolero, hip-hop, rock, and “llanero” or country music. Most of these broadcasters are “low power” (20 watts and less) and can usually be heard only in their immediate neighborhoods.


Radio Noer and Radio Radhika are community radio stations broadcasting for the mass community of Suriname. And most interesting fact about these stations are that their population is mainly Indian  so they tend to broadcast mostly in Hindi and plays Bollywood music.

The overall goal of community radio is to rise awareness and discuss local issues of public concern. It is also important to note that community broadcasting have often been establish in the absence of a clearly codified legal regulatory framework. There are many challenges ahead of community broadcasting- the rush to marketisation of the air waves, the privatisation of spectrum, the growth of powerful media concentrations that deter politicians from acting in the public interest on media reform.

The substantial worldwide growth of community broadcasting over the last 25 years is an  indicator that this sector has a crucial and specific contribution to make a plural media landscape to meet the needs of the people.

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