Tuesday, 3 November 2009

[creative-radio] Guatemala's indigenous groups campaign to legalise their radio stations


Guatemala's indigenous groups campaign to legalise their radio stations
03 Nov 2009 17:45:00 GMT
Written by: Anastasia Moloney



BOGOTA (AlertNet) - Guatemala's indigenous groups are pinning their hopes
on a telecommunications reform bill that would make it easier for
community radio stations to operate, a move they and campaigners say is
vital to protect the rights and safety of a large but often neglected
section of the population.

The bill, expected to be debated in Guatemalan congress early next year,
seeks to establish a wave band specifically reserved for community
stations and to make it easier to obtain community radio licenses.

For indigenous groups, who make up 80 per cent of Guatemala's population,
community radio is a life-line. Guatemala's 170 community radio stations
broadcast in 15 indigenous languages, reaching over one million listeners
every day.

"Radio is so important because it's the only media in Guatemala that
provides information to local communities in their own language," said
Thomas Hart, Guatemala country manager for Health Unlimited, one of four
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) campaigning with indigenous groups
to get the bill approved.

Community radio is a vital source of information, particularly for
indigenous women living in rural areas where illiteracy rates are high.
The stations broadcast popular radio soaps, daily news and shows about
Mayan culture as well as government public health campaigns on AIDS
prevention and vaccination.

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