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World Radio Day

13 February is World Radio Day — a day to celebrate radio as a medium; to improve international cooperation between broadcasters; and to advocate major networks and community radio to promote access to information and freedom of expression.

 Why World Radio Day?

 UNESCO’s General Conference, at its 36th session, proclaimed World Radio Day on 13 February.

UNESCO’s Executive Board recommended to the General Conference the proclamation of World Radio Day, on the basis of a feasibility study undertaken by UNESCO, further to a proposal from Spain.

Radio is the mass media reaching the widest audience in the world. It is also recognized as a powerful communication tool and a low cost medium. Radio is specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people: the illiterate, the disabled, women, youth and the poor, while offering a platform to intervene in the public debate, irrespective of people’s educational level. Furthermore, radio has a strong and specific role in emergency communication and disaster relief.

There is also a changing face to radio services which, in the present times of media convergence, are taking up new technological forms, such as broadband, mobiles and tablets. However, it is said that up to a billion people still do not have access to radio today.

A wide consultation process started in June 2011, carried out by UNESCO. It included all stakeholders, i.e. broadcasting associations; public, state, private, community and international broadcasters; UN agencies; funds and programmes; topic-related NGOs; academia; foundations and bilateral development agencies; as well as UNESCO Permanent Delegations and National Commissions. Among the answers, 91% were in favour of the project. The leader of the project, the Academia Española de la Radio, received over 46 letters of support from diverse stakeholders, including the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU), the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Association of Broadcasting (IAB), the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), the Organization de Telecommunications Ibeoramericanas (OTI), BBC, URTI, Vatican Radio, etc.

The date of 13 February, the day the United Nations radio was established in 1946, was proposed by the Director-General of UNESCO. The objectives of the Day will be to raise greater awareness among the public and the media of the importance of radio; to encourage decision makers to establish and provide access to information through radio; as well as to enhance networking and international cooperation among broadcasters.

The consulted stakeholders also proposed ideas for the programme of celebration: extensive use of social media, annual themes, a dedicated website enabling virtual participation, special radio programmes, radio programmes exchange, a festival involving key partners, and so forth.

The resolution is being submitted to the United Nations’ General Assembly, at its 67th session in September 2012, for endorsement.

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