AMARC Europe supports CUAC FM in it’s struggle to keep right to communicate

AMARC Europe fully supports CUAC FM in their conflict with the regulatory authority and calls for all parties to support human and free media rights.

CALL FOR ACTION: PLEASE SIGN THE MANIFEST HERE!

BRIEFING

With this declaration we aim to defend the exercise of the freedom of speech through any means, specially the community media.

Community radios are non-profit, plural and independent spaces for free communication that serve their community while fulfilling a social purpose. They are democratizing spaces that encourage the social cohesion and the media literacy among the citizenship. Community media are a legal right for citizens that is expressly recognized by law (General Audiovisual Communication Act 7/2010) but not by the government.

Cuac FM has been waiting 21 years for a broadcasting license to be granted. After 7 years the government keeps refusing to regulate the existing community communication services. On the contrary, public administration has initiated a sanction proceeding, threatening the radio station with a fine of up to 200.000€. Cuac FM has had to stop broadcasting via the 103.4 FM dial, and tomorrow the same could happen to any of the more than 300 free radio stations nationwide.

In this declaration we CLAIM our right to freedom of speech and communication, and we DEMAND:

(1) that the sanctioning files currently opened against Cuac FM and other free and community media of the country are closed immediately

(2) The grant of a temporary authorisation so that Cuac FM can keep providing a Community Broadcasting service, as set out in the 7/2010 Act.

(3) The drafting of a Communication Act where third sector entities are granted an equal treatment and part of the radio broadcasting space is reserved for community media, Which also guarantees the sustainability of these media as proof of plurality of information, of the right of the citizenship to access the media, cultural diversity and media democratization.

Declaration for the Right to Communicate of the citizenship

Cuac FM is A Coruña’s community radio; a non-profit, private station with a social purpose which is to guarantee the citizenship exercise of their rights to communicate and to freedom of speech.  Cuac FM began broadcasting on March 27, 1996 and has been always open for the citizenship (both natural and legal persons) who voluntarily and in an altruistic way develops a continued activity  24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

During 21 years 455 shows and more than 1200 people have gone through its microphones, communicating through radio on a regular basis. Cuac is a local station that gives voice to the citizenship: persons and collectives normally under-represented on the generalist media. Social organizations such as CASCO (the anti-AIDS citizen committee of A Coruña), Amnesty International, ADEGA (association for the ecological defense of Galicia) the University of A Coruña and many others have joined Cuac FM’s to share their experience and knowledge, providing a diversified vision from reality.

Cuac FM has broadcasted via the FM 103.4 dial from the first day, without interfering with or harming any other galician radio station’s broadcast. Its band coverage reaches most of A Coruña’s metropolitan area, and it can also be listened to via Internet, being the first local station from A Coruña to broadcast this way, either podcasting or streaming. It has been also the first to develop its own apps, and it is also the city’s private station that broadcasts more self-produced shows in galician language.

CUAC is more than a radio station. It is a space for media literacy and training on social communication. Via  the “Radio and Associationism School”, Cuac engages almost 100 people a year in radio workshops (both introductory and specialization) that aim to improve the media skills of young people and adults.

Cuac FM develops also an intense associative activity, in defense of the right to communicate. Cuac is co-founder of ReMC (Spanish Community Media Network) and REGARLIC (Galician Free and Community Radio Network) ), and it’s also a member of AMARC-Europe (Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias), being part of their Board of Directors.

However, despite its wide and recognized background, Cuac FM has been denied its right to a community license in several occasions and has finally received notice of a sanction proceeding from the regional government of the Xunta de Galicia. This proceeding may imply a fine of up to 200.000€ which would doom the station to its closure and therefore would dash the hopes and illusions of youngsters, elders and social collectives who will be, in the words of a prestigious local journalist, “doomed to the saddest of disillusions”.

The case of Cuac FM is the latest attempt of persecution and closure from an administration that would rather silence the voices of those who are weak instead of ensuring the freedom of speech and the plurality of media, turning it in a fight between powerful Goliaths against little Davids whose only weapon is the  unbreakable support of the citizenship they serve.

Today is Cuac; yesterday were Radio Kras in Gijón, Radio Nava, Radiópolis in Seville or Radio Vallekas. We are all in danger. From Onda Color in Málaga to Radio Televisió de Cardedeu in Sabadell. From Radio Pimienta in Tenerife to Radio Valdivielso in Burgos.

The UN, UNESCO, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe recognise the work that community media have done: they are tools for the cultural expression that strengthen the social cohesion and promote the cultural and linguistic diversity, the social inclusion and the local identities. Community radios contribute to the media literacy of the citizenship.

International recommendations are not observed since Spain still does not guarantee the right of community media to have a license that would allow them to perform a non-profit community service. The fact that community media serve as centres of professional capacitation does not matter to those who rule, nor does their plurality, accessibility, total availability  and altruism. According to them, we deserve nothing.

They want us to remain silent because we can’t be manipulated and we don’t sell ourselves out. They aim to silence us because we give voice to uncomfortable truths, and because we provide freedom and freshness in a world that is ruled with rigid regulations and spurious interests. They want to shut us down because we are democratic and our doors are open to everyone that desires to do radio, without any requirement or counterpart.

This is not an isolated event but another small step of politics where material things prevail over  before people once again, as well as money over survival and personal interests over justice. These are politics made by those who have a lot and still feel the need for more.

The sanction proceeding that Xunta de Galicia has started against Cuac FM comes from the ineffectiveness of a Government that has decided to breach the General Audiovisual Communication Act, an Act that was adopted 7 years ago but hasn’t been developed. There is no intention of regulating the media communication services, thus discriminating against the citizenship: while local media remain banished from the radio spectrum, the fragile status of media professionals is encouraged and commercial piracy is tolerated.

We are living in a system where the population does not have a voice and is condemned to fight for survival in precarious, vulnerable and insecure legal conditions.

For all the foregoing reasons, the individuals and collectives that sign this declaration demand from the government authorities and urge our local, regional and state representatives the fulfillment of the following demands:

 

  1. An active defense of the right to freedom of speech and communication of the citizenship that shall prevail over private interests and management issues. The exercise of a fundamental right cannot be subject to the development of a regulation that has been delayed for 7 years, without any justification.
  2. As a consequence: the immediate shelving of the sanction proceeding brought against Cuac FM by the regional government of Xunta de Galicia, and the award of the corresponding authorisation so that Cuac FM can provide a media communication service.  
  3. The immediate lifting of the coercitive measures currently being taken against the non-profit, free and community media throughout the State, following the rights covered by articles 20.1.a, 20.1.d, y 9.2 of the Spanish Constitution.
  4. A real and effective recognition of these media, reserving enough radio broadcasting space and developing the necessary impulse measures in order to guarantee their effective functioning, according to the recommendations given by the European Parliament and other international agencies.
  5. The grant of licenses to those audiovisual community communication services that were active before 2009, january 1st, according to the non-legislative motion that was approved by the Lower House on 2017, June 21st that is supported by the  transitional provision n. 14 of the General Audiovisual Communication Act.
  6. The provision of licenses and broadcasting space for those audiovisual community communication services that started their activity after 2009, January 1st or aim to start in the future, following the recommendations coming from the UN and OSCE Special Rapporteurs on freedom of speech, which recommend a proportionate distribution of the radio spectrum between public, private, commercial and community media.
  7. The removal of any arbitrary constraints that may affect the performance of the non-profit audiovisual community communication services from the applicable law. Every tool that enforces the democratic participation and media literacy must be promoted and protected by the public administration.
  8. The development of a communication legislation that ensures an equal treatment to the communication third sector, as well as the sustainability of the community communication media, guaranteeing the plurality of information and the cultural diversity.

 

Democracy is not possible without plural and diversified media, legality loses its value if there is no justice and life is not possible without variety. Given that freedom, here and now, is also called Cuac FM… as María Pita said: “Those who have honour, follow us.”

Cuac resists!