The 5th AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conference was designed as a milestone in the annals of community media development. It coincided with a period in which citizens across the Asia-Pacific region and the world are experiencing brutal oppression of freedom of expression. Changing times, characterized by emerging climatic challenges, shifting political ethics, commercial interests and technological innovations, have brought the whole of humanity to a cross road. Community media requires urgent Strengthening against Emerging Challenges and Embracing Opportunities. The Community Radio Conference 2023 was inspired as much by the historical evolution of community broadcasting as it was by persistent and new development objectives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reiterated, once again, the indisputable role of community radios for reaching out to the ‘last mile, last person’ with lifesaving messages. The fact that AMARC member radio stations across the Asia-Pacific region, in spite of the personal tragedies faced by staff and volunteers, continued serving local communities with messages to cope with the consequences of the pandemic, established beyond any doubt, the role of community radios as the most effective means of media for emergency risk communication. By the early days of the pandemic, AMARC Asia-Pacific had already mobilised its members to actively engage with public health authorities, local government officials and community leaders for providing life-saving information and raising confidence among local people, especially the vulnerable populations of women- in-special-conditions, children and senior citizens, as well as for quelling disinformation and fake news.
The theme of the conference also refered to the need for embracing opportunities available to community broadcasters, mainly through internet-based technological innovations. By embracing the innovative solutions, community radios have a distinct possibility of dramatically expanding their listenership, catering to diverse interests, assorted demography and overcoming traditional broadcasting difficulties associated with terrestrial means. Community radios have only one way to go and that is the way of freedom of expression and community development propelled by an inclusive society.
AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conferences are widely considered to be the most important community radio event in the Asia-Pacific region. The Conferences are well attended by individuals representing community radios, the academia, human rights sector, the dalit movement, family farmers organisations, women’s right organisations, the sexual minorities, and indigenous people’s organisations.
AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conferences serve as the premier space for deliberating on issues concerning community radios that range from ‘conflict resolution and peace building’ to ‘challenging patriarchy and gender relationships;’ from ‘addressing challenges raised by migration & internal displacement’ to ‘adapting to climate change, enhancing preparedness against disasters, and voicing for climate justice;’ and from ‘fighting fake news and disinformation’ to ‘promoting policy, regulation and media laws for positive impacts on community broadcasting and freedom of expression.’
AMARC Asia-Pacific Regional Conferences are platforms to discuss issues that are of current relevance to the society in general and to deliberate on ways through which community radios can address those issues. Poverty alleviation, food security, gender equality, media freedom and national policies for media, sustainability of community radios, and technological innovations are some of the issues that are popularly taken up for deliberations in the conferences.
AMARC Asia-Pacific regional Conferences are co-organized in close collaboration with local partners as well as international supporters.