Community Media/Radio/Governance UNESCO Workshop/Foundation Documents

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Foundation documents for community radio stations

As public entities, community radio stations have public-community obligations: to be representative, transparent and accountable. These obligations require texts that articulate and elaborate principles, processes, procedures, etc. The texts are useful only in so far as they reflect a collective community vision, one that is actively pursued by the station and accountable to the community.

Foundation documents go by different names and follow different models in different places. This is a positive situation, as these documents should reflect local ways of doing things. They might include policies, codes of conduct, statements, guidelines, etc. They could be assembled in a policy manual or a constitution or a strategic plan.

In essence, foundation documents are collectively agreed, generally published texts that govern the direction, decision-making, programming and operations of a given radio station. They help to define the station’s identity and character and to make them ‘public’: open, transparent and accessible to all. They are also tools for use in external negotiations, with governments, listeners or agencies. The development of these types of texts should always be understood as an on-going process and ideally stations should develop their own approach.

  1. Statement of principles (What we believe)

A document, often a page or two, which lays out point by point the major principles that guide the community radio, for example, that the station is representative of the community in ownership, staffing and content; that the station values and prioritises volunteers; that the station accepts only non-commercial advertising.

  • Principles from UNESCO Community Radio Handbook[1]
  • CBAA “guiding principles”
  • ACORAB “plan”
  1. Mission (What we do); Vision (What we will be)

Generally short, very succinct statements that clearly outline the mission (principle tasks and aims) and the vision (projecting the future) of the station.

  • Radio Zibonele, South Africa*
  1. Code of conduct (What rules we follow)

A group of accepted rules and regulations that govern procedures and behaviours, especially for particular groups, e.g. journalists or volunteers, and especially in particular circumstances, e.g. elections

  • Radio Los Palos, East Timor*
  • CBAA
  1. Strategic organisational plan
  • Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Nepal *
  • Don’t really have one
  1. Specific policies and guidelines (How we organise)
    1. Ownership and representation
      • Radio Salus Policies
    2. Organisational structure
  • Elements culled from UNESCO Guide to CMCs[2]*</sup>
    1. Community governing council
  • Radio Los Palos, East Timor*
    1. Technical guidelines
  • Elements culled from UNESCO Guide to CMCs**
    1. Broadcasting during elections*
  • Radio Los Palos, East Timor*
    1. Financial management
  • Elements culled from UNESCO Guide to CMCs**

  1. Examples of these texts to be translated for the workshop
  2. * Texts and materials available in UNESCO’s Guide to CMCs (for which there are multiple language versions available)