The first Conference and General Assembly of the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) was held in Nicosia, Cyprus, from 17 to 19 November 2011, and hosted by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC). It was the first major event organised directly by CMFE and one of the key community media events of this year in Europe, bringing together over 100 conference participants from 19 European countries as well as members and guests from the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and the United States. Five plenary sessions included 24 contributions, where parallel sessions and workshops delivered a further 43 contributions. Representatives from the media regulatory authorities from Albania and the Czech Republic participated to the conference, as well as key representatives from civil society and institutions in Cyprus and Europe.
A special plenary on 'Community Media and Arab Spring', co-organised with the World Association of Community Radio broadcasters (AMARC) and the support of Independent Media Support (IMS), brought together key activists from the Middle East and North Africa region. The speakers shared their direct experiences and insights about the ongoing struggles for democracy, and the crucial role the media plays in networking protesters, in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and Libya. Conference participants remarked how these experiences could provide inspiration and encourage new approaches to community media practice in the European context.
In the closing plenary on the 'Opportunities and Challenges for Community Media in Europe', CMFE's President Pieter de Wit highlighted a number of priorities: "CMFE needs to work with regulators and policy makers to ensure equal access to resources for all media players in the digital environment. We must coordinate efforts to fight back on interferences and limitations of community media's funding and scope, as recently was the case in Hungary and Spain. CMFE will support community media's efforts in Cyprus and the Mediterranean region, in cooperation with AMARC". De Wit also remarked the need for members to call on their own authorities to refer to the 2008 Resolution on Community Media by the European Parliament and the 2009 Declaration of the Committee of Ministers of Council of Europe when drafting or revising their national media policy frameworks.
Emmanuel Boutterin, Vice President of AMARC International, underlined the key political role of the community radio movement in today's global struggle for the access of local communities to the airwaves and the importance of equitable access to the spectrum in the context of digitalisation.
The Conference also endorsed the Cyprus Community Media Declaration prepared by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC). The declaration calls on different actors across Cyprus to create an enabling environment for Community Media on the island. In particular, it calls on the relevant authorities to ‘recognise Community Media as a distinct sector, operating in a pluralistic media landscape alongside public and commercial media’, and also to ‘make analogue and digital television and radio frequencies available to Community Media with awareness of the social value they provide’.
In this occasion CMFE also convened its 2011 ordinary General Assembly. Held on 17 November 2011, it brought together 51 out of 75 ordinary members, present or represented, the highest number in a General Assembly so far. After the approval of CMFE's 2009-2011 activities and financial reports, 2012 budget and action plan, a new Board of Directors was elected for the term 2011-2014. Composed of 13 members, the new Board includes representatives from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Pieter de Wit (The Netherlands) was confirmed President, Ciaran Murray (Ireland) is the new Secretary and Jaqui Devereux (United Kingdom) the new Treasurer of the association.
> Full information on the new Board of Directors
This event was co-organised by the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) and the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) and hosted by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC),
The event was supported by: European Union under the 'Europe for Citizens Programme 2011', European Commission Representation in Cyprus, United Nations Development Programme, Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT), Goethe Institute in Nicosia, Cyprus, World Association of Community Radio broadcasters (AMARC), and International Media Support (IMS).
> Conference archive with pictures, videos and reports recorded at the event
> Press release, 29 November 2011
> Documentation of the Plenary Sessions
> Documentation of the Parallel Sessions