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radio  dany riveraCommunity radio broadcasters in Mozambique have expressed their concerns about how digital migration will affect the allocation of frequencies for the community broadcasting sector

With the 2015 deadline for digital migration set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) fast approaching and with no decision taken on how to accommodate the community broadcasting sector in the frame, participants at a conference on community radio stations in Maputo last week, took a look at the community radio station sector across Africa.

Close to 200 participants, including representatives from community radio stations, academics, civil society organisations, regulatory authorities and media support organisations from 20 African countries, attended the Maputo Conference on Community.

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) media and ICT programme manager, Dumisani Moyo, said, "This conference is a timely intervention that enables participants to interrogate some of the critical questions about sustainability, funding and financing models, content production and the role of the state in supporting community radio stations to ensure that the rural and marginalised communities in our region have a voice."

According to discussions at the conference, along with the key concern about the ITU digital deadline, the principle of controlling allocation of frequencies to private business and ensuring regulation in the public interest has also become a concern for the community radio sector.

The meeting urged "African governments to put in place legislative and conducive regulatory frameworks, which institute a three tier system with appropriate access to the frequencies for all communities, including the most marginalised, and to strengthen independent regulatory bodies to guarantee the right to communicate and access to information".

In addition, it singled out the governments of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania, and requested them to "establish legal provisions for licensing community broadcasting in the respective countries".