Women and Community Radio

Sarintip Mansap and Sarod Wellmanee

Since 1997, when Thailand’s new constitution came into effect, people’s media reform organisations (PMROs) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have tried to reform the media. Community radio (CR) is the best concrete example of media reform in Thailand, as radio is a medium that is, at once, highly accessible in rural areas, has low production costs, and does not require too much expertise. NGOs and PMROs have supported communities in their efforts to establish community radio stations. Thus, at the beginning of the 2000s, Thai community radio emerged.

In 2002, there were over 100 stations. In 2004, interest soared after the government permitted community radios to run commercials of up to six minutes every hour; over 3,000 community radio stations were founded. Finally, in 2010, when the Subcommittee on Radio and Television Broadcasting under the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) asked community radio stations to apply for licenses, over 6,000 applications were filed. Presently it is estimated that there are around 8,000 stations claiming to be community radios.

Since 2007, the Multiculturalism and Educational Policy Research Centre (Multi-Ed), Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University researches women’s programmes and the role of woman broadcasters. Multi-Ed has developed short-term projects for “empowering woman in community radio and investigating the role of woman in community radio.” The projects were funded by the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Southeast Asia.

This paper discusses the role of women in Thai community radio, how radio can be a public space for women, women’s approaches to radio technology, and women’s programmes in community radio.

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