BUJUMBURA July 6th (ABP) – Assistant Minister of Communication and Media Thierry Kitamoya closed the three-day national consultation on the sustainability of community radio stations in Burundi on Thursday July 4, 2019. It was organized by that Ministry in collaboration with the UNESCO Office in Burundi, a check by ABP revealed.

He stressed in his speech the importance of the topics that were subject to the consultation, especially since they concern the transition from analogue to digital.

“The Ministry of Communication and Media is committed to forwarding the consultation report to those entitled,” he said.

The consultation participants recommended that the government consider community communication as cross-cutting and set the communication budget on each axis of the national development plan; create a one-stop-shop to facilitate broadcasting application procedures, set up a joint committee to monitor the process of official recognition of community radios and update the legal and regulatory framework by adding provisions relating to community radio stations.

They also recommended lowering fees paid to the Telecommunications Regulatory and Control Agency (ARCT) and licensing costs, setting fees in local currency, reducing licensing procedures for community radios, to merge the two regulatory bodies (the National Media Council (CNC) and the ARCT) into a single entity responsible for regulating Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the media.

The update of the decree on the organization of the transition to digital to take into account the particularities of community radios, the establishment of mechanisms to support technically and financially the community media in their efforts to migrate to the dissemination of their content online and Authorization to community radios that are capable of introducing hybrid broadcasting (analogue and digital) were also among the recommendations made by the participants to the government.

Particularly to community radio stations, they recommended setting up a structure that consolidates, coordinates and guides the training provided by various partners, as well as closely monitoring the trained staff to reassure them that the acquired material is beneficial to the target groups.

Other recommendations were addressed to the technical and financial partners, including UNESCO, to support, inter alia, academic training programs to raise the level of community radio journalists, to organize continuous sessions of in situ coaching of community radios and to provide support for community radios in parallel with thematic capacity building.

It was recalled that the national consultation on the sustainability of community radios is part of the project “Building Community Radio Capacities through ICTs”, implemented by UNESCO with the support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). One of its aims was to take stock of community broadcasting in Burundi and to think about the granting of licensing mechanisms by an independent regulatory body with the necessary expertise, understanding and mandate necessary for support and community broadcasting.

The delegate of the UNESCO Yaoundé Regional Office in Cameroon expressed his gratitude to the participants, the experts and the organizing committee for the work done together.

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