Community radio is a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. The first 14 community radio stations went on air in December 2011, and a couple of applicants are awaiting for licenses.In a country like Bangladesh, where the majority of the population lives in rural areas, community radios are the ears and eyes of the poor, marginalized or excluded. They are the voices for participation, the sources of information, and the instruments for mobilization.Free Press Unlimited together with its long-term partner the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) wants to build further the capacity of the 14 community radio stations and to help the others go on air. The capacity will be built through training the journalistic and management staff of the radio stations and through production and distribution of quality content. A strategy plan for financial sustainability of community radio will be developed by BNNRC with the participation of the community radios themselves, local businesses and local government. At the same time, the organizational, technical & lobby and advocacy capacity of BNNRC as the only network organization for community media in the country will be strengthened further. Awareness raising campaigns on the importance of community media for development, on the one hand, and the importance of access to information for promoting transparency and fighting corruption, on the other hand, will be organized on a regular basis. Lobby and advocacy, as well as licensing procedures, for new community radio stations and possibly community TV channels, will be initiated. Through this variety of activities, community radios in the country will be strengthened to promote participation and encourage development.In collaboration: BNNRC and Free Press Unlimited-for the growth of Community Radio sector in Bangladesh
BNNRC has been involved with Free Press Unlimited (earlier as Free Voice) for developing a vibrant community media, particularly community radio sector since 2007. As one of the first partners and donors of BNNRC, Free Press Unlimited supported a number of advocacy and lobby activities (including campaigns and workshops) in the country to raise awareness and initiate adopting of legislation on community radio. Free Press Unlimited also supported the first national baseline study on community radio in Bangladesh (in 2008) - to identify the needs and priorities of community groups, organizations and initiators that have expressed interest to establish community radio stations across the country. Parallel to the baseline study, Free Press Unlimited helped establish the first Community Radio Academy in the country headquartered at BNNRC and started a longer-term program for organizational capacity building of BNNRC. The program includes technical and institutional support, as well as advice and facilitation of knowledge sharing from other community radio development programs supported by Free Press Unlimited (in Peru, Ghana, Nepal and Indonesia). The efforts of BNNRC supported by Free Press Unlimited in the past 7 years (in awareness raising, establishing radio listeners clubs, supporting community radio initiators, lobby for legislation, and preparing license applications) have resulted in the first community radio stations in the country going on air in late 2011.
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