Traditionally, mainstream broadcast media has been, until recently – amid the rapid proliferation of free digital tools and the legitimacy of user-generated content – carved up between the public service and privately commercial camps.
Conversely, there has been less of an official ‘ear’ granted to grassroots media, expressing the concerns and interests of local communities.
The Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) – whose inaugural three-day event in Cyprus kicks off today, hosted by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) – was founded to address this void, strengthen the participation of the ‘Third Media Sector’ in European discussion and decision-making processes.
The “Third Media Sector” is made up of non profit-making media, serving a local community and has … a clearly distinct identity alongside the national public service sector and private commercial media.
The CMFE is a common platform for networks, national federations and projects active within this sector … it enables the participating organisations to bring up their concerns on a European and international level and … represents a channel through which European institutions can spread information on relevant questions to CMFE participants.
Such effort has successfully translated into two declarations at the Council of Europe level, says Media Against Racism in Sport‘s Stefan Tenner and, further:
In 2009 CMFE was admitted as observer on the Steering Committee on the Media and new Communications Services (CDMC) and the newly formed Group of Specialists on New Media (NC-NM) of the Council of Europe (CoE), where it has the important role of representing the interest of the Community Media sector at the pan-european level. CMFE was granted participatory status with the Council of Europe as of 29 December 2010 and is part of the International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGO) conference.
Nonetheless, “the CMFE’s remit is not limited to Europe alone”, RadioExpert.org‘s Henry Loeser told The Peace Exchange, but aims to address shortfalls in the safeguarding, representation and integration of community media wherever such a need exists.
Loeser stressed that CMFE’s 2011 conference, drawing over 100 international delegates, was intended to engage with grassroots media from across Europe and globally, as well as with both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and will, in a schedule highlight later today, bring key regional activists to offer insight into community media’s role in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The event’s schedule may be viewed in full here. There will also be live feeds, photographs and blogging during and between plenary sessions posted on the conference’s virtual space: http://cmfe2011.posterous.com