As in any revolution, there is action, anarchy but order emerges out of chaos. The booming numbers of stations in
Roxanne Toh reported late last year in an Inter Press Service feature that the voice of community radio is getting louder across
Community radio ventures have thus mushroomed; often broadcasting from homemade transmitters and makeshift venues like unlit toilet cubicles to abandoned spaces. When the new constitution came into place in 1997, community radio stations began to tackle local issues, often taking critical views of the government. There are more than 150 community radio stations today, although they are operating as part of pilot efforts and not on full licenses.
Such strength has led governments to be careful of these grassroots efforts. The government is reluctant and thus delaying the establishment of independent regulatory bodies to institutionalise the presence of community radio and clarify the rules under which they can operate, says Kulachada Chaipipat, director for Thailand of the South-east Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA).
The Public Relations Department in
The grey area in which community radio finds itself forced to operate in
Community radio stations have trouble obtaining frequencies and their legal status still remains very shaky. The community radio stations have used the New Frequencies Act of 2000 to set up shop, which stipulates that 20 per cent of frequencies would be assigned to community broadcast. The government was trying to get a share in this ownership of the 20 per cent slot, which was solely meant for the public.
Uajit Virojtrairatt, who has helped communities in
The initial hesitation of communities in even setting up stations was overcome soon, and the grassroots communities are unstoppable in promoting this wave revolution.
There is of course a silver lining in every cloud. Media opened up, with private radio stations being set up in many islands. The setting up of independent news and features agencies added to the potential for producing and sharing a different kind of content than was produced in the erstwhile 'controlled-media' regime. The industry grew by more than 30 per cent, from about 750 to over a 1,000 stations, with some 60 stations on the air in
Convergence technologies are becoming the order of the day where cost and technical excellence have to match the diverse needs of the islands. Internet radio is becoming a popular option for many stations.
A UNESCO project in
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