Participants at Research Training workshop

Participants at Research Training workshop

Ideosync Media Combine has initiated a participatory research process to explore the parameters that impact the sustainability of Community Radio in the region with funding support from CEMCA and UNESCO. The research process – which will involve 9 stations from India, and 2 each from Nepal and Bangladesh – will be conducted between February and December 2014.

In principle, community radio – if established and managed on the premise of giving voice to the marginalized, and becoming a local community-owned media – has the potential to be a game changer in the development paradigm. CR could be the ultimate solution to the age-old challenge of reaching the last mile, in the local language, with critical and key information tailor-made for the contexts it addresses.

More importantly, Community Radio must fulfill its mandate to broadcast content that is ‘in the interests’ of the community it serves by enabling local voices and creating an independent third tier of broadcasting that fosters an alternate discourse on development and upholds the principles of equity and justice.

Whether this purpose is better achieved by visualizing CR as a self-sustaining local process, or whether it is better served by a mandate for public funds is however, moot. Another key question is whether there is a shared understanding of sustainability in the CR sector and what contributes to achieving this sustainability?

Mind map excercise during research training workshop

Mind map excercise during research training workshop

The proposed research will attempt to use innovative participatory methods to explore these broader issues while documenting everyday broadcasting practice of participating CR stations in order to surmise the parameters that shape long term sustainability within which Community Radios operate in the region.

After an extensive desk research exercise, a validation workshop was held on May 16, 2014 in New Delhi to discuss the findings and the research methodology for the initiative. Community radio and community media practitioners and researchers from the region provided their inputs to the research design. Those present included among others, representatives from AMARC, ACORAB (Nepal); BNNRC (Bangladesh); the UNESCO Chair on Community Media; and CRF and CRA (India).

The research design and tools were revised based on inputs received during the validation workshop. A researchtraining workshop was held with all the 13 participating Community Radio stations on June 5, 2014. Community researchers gained in-depth understanding of
research as a process and what they would need to do to become ‘Action Researchers’. Sessions were held on understanding research ethics and research tools. Researchers practiced writing diaries, conducting FGDs and generating mind maps as well as exploring good practice stories from their Community Radio stations.

Venu Arora
Ideosync Media Combine