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Community Radio in the Twenty-First Century

Edited By Janey Gordon

In the twenty-first century, community radio is fulfilling an increasingly important role in the world’s mediascape. This book documents the ways in which community radio broadcasters and activists are using the medium in countries around the world to challenge political corruption, aid the transition to political democracy and broadcast voices that are otherwise unheard. The contributors to the volume are academics and practitioners from five continents, many with first-hand experience of community radio. Each chapter demonstrates the pivotal role that small radio stations can play in developing, sustaining and invigorating communities. The book charts campaigns for the legalisation of community radio and relates them to a theoretical context, while providing illustrations and examples from community radio stations around the world.

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Section Three Community Radio in Practice 243

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SECTION THREE Community Radio in Practice Mary Traynor Ducking the Party Line: Lessons in Community Radio from Laos and China1 Introduction In democratic countries, community radio is widely recognised as a legiti- mate, egalitarian and accessible form of expression, coexisting alongside public service and commercial radio. When the imperatives of govern- ment are not democratic, community radio can be misunderstood, or even considered a threat. The countries under discussion in this chapter, China and Laos, follow a communist ideology and the political, social and economic conditions have traditionally favoured state, rather than independent media. However, the realities of increasing globalisation and economic pressure have caused both countries to embark on a programme of modernization, which creates some potential for community radio. I have been involved in community radio in Wales for some years and have first-hand experience of the value of participatory media in bringing about social change. I was fascinated to explore the extent to which the moderni- zation programme would benefit community radio and have made several visits to Laos, to interview community radio stake-holders, from listeners to policy makers. In many respects, China is Laos’ ‘big brother’, following a similar ideology but somewhat more advanced than its smaller neigh- bour in its progress towards modernization. I was interested to investigate whether the experiences of community radio in China might be a source 1 The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of UNDP Lao PDR and Vongsone Oudomsouk of the Khoun Community Radio Support Project. 246 Mary Traynor of...

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