Monthly Archives: August 2012

Calling all Creatives! CCMC launches MakeMedia 2012

It’s not that we’re no longer gonna be making our own productions… It’s just that we thought that it was time we opened up a little and work with your creativity to get the stories and voices that really matter out in the open.

Today CCMC lauched Make Media 2012, an opportunity for a wide range of media producers, filmmakers and creative freelancers to connect with CCMC and its mandate of amplifying the voice of all communities of Cyprus. CCMC is welcoming productions realised in a variety of ways including but not limited to Documentary, Animation, Audio Slideshow, Multimedia, Motion Graphics, Narrative/Fiction, Podcasts and Radio.

The best productions will be showcased at a CCMC Film Festival sometime next Spring.

We are open to proposals for individual pieces of 3-5 minutes in length or a series of up to five episodes and focused around the following six thematic areas:

1.    Gender
2.    Youth
3.    Environment
4.    Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations
5.    Benefit of Community Media in Cyprus
6.    Media Literacy

Given the  nature of our work we hope that each entry contributes to greater understanding of the communities of Cyprus, and include the cross-cutting theme of peaceful coexistence and/or reconciliation.

Make Media 2012 is open to filmmakers, production persons or skilled and experienced amateurs. Applicants are welcome to work in partnership with others but the total budget allocated for the production will have to cover those additional costs. CCMC will support the production and offer use of its equipment, as well as supporting translating the production into English, Greek and Turkish.

For all of you that are interested you can read the full details and download an application form available on the CCMC website. Applications may be submitted in English, Greek or Turkish and the deadline for submission of the application forms is 21 September 2012.

We are going to have a second round of applications announced later in the year as well.

So start applying, and if you need any more information, you know where to find us!

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Getting the word out! CCMC live in Chicago

The magic of the digital age…

Last Wednesday (1 August), CCMC’s Larry Fergeson took the CCMC message to Chicago, speaking at a workshop during the annual Alliance for Community Media (ACM) Conference. Larry took part a discussion on “Community Media for Development and Conflict Resolution in Europe” over Skype, joining fellow panelists Erik Möllberg, Assistant Manager at Access Fort Wayne, John Higgins (a good friend of CCMC!) from University of San Francisco, and Pembe Mentesh, Programme Analyst at UNDP-ACT in Cyprus.

The panel was an opportunity to discuss how community media can be a useful tool for development work, advocacy, and social change, with CCMC as a case study, while Larry also doubled up as a member of the Board of the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE) to outline the work of the organisation at the European level.

The discussion was featured in the latest edition of the AMARC Europe newsletter, where you can also read about the threats to the community radio movement in Greece.

Five Years in the Making: NGO Law Reform in Cyprus

This article was first published on page 16-17 of The Cyprus Weekly (3 August).

Yiouli Taki cuts a frustrated figure. As the coordinator for the NGO Initiative, an informal group of civil society representatives working towards reform of the legal framework for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), she has spent countless working hours organising meetings and drafting letters with the aim of achieving greater legal recognition of the sector. “This is as much about the process of reform as it is about the legislation”, says Taki, who doubles up as lead researcher at INDEX Research and Dialogue, a non-profit organisation working on issues of social policy. “Five years since this process started we do not know where we stand, and we are frustrated”, she adds.

Back in November 2007 things were on the up. Civil society, a novel concept for a country which just three years previous had joined the European Union (EU) had been limited to – and dominated by – institutions such as trade unions, the Church and political parties. The concepts of volunteerism and philanthropy covered the range of activities promoted by these institutions as a way of giving back to society. Cyprus’ accession to the EU created new opportunities and incentives for participation of a new form of civil society which had been developing in Cyprus since the late 1990s that was neither politically motivated nor philanthropic in its outlook on issues of societal concern. Increasingly active at the European level through networking and partnerships, Cypriot NGOs have started becoming more assertive in their demands for participation in decision-making processes.

In parallel, institutions of the state, the Planning Bureau in particular, started to see NGOs as potential implementing partners for policy both at home in abroad. European practice in the field of development cooperation – the delivery of financial support for countries in the developing ‘Global South’ – suggested that national agencies implement their policies in collaboration with local NGOs. CyprusAid, Cyprus’ development agency, has been implementing policy through ‘delegating’ funds through other EU member states such as Denmark and Ireland as well as through United Nations (UN) organisations like the World Food Programme. For collaboration to take place with local NGOs it was necessary for them to, amongst others, fulfil certain principles of financial transparency and accountability. Reform of the legal framework thus became a ‘wish’ for the Planning Bureau. “Not so much a wish, but also a need”, Taki responds.

On the initiative of the Planning Bureau funding was secured from the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus (UNDP-ACT) and a reform process was launched. In April 2008 a report assessing Cyprus’ legal and regulatory framework was published by the European Centre for Not-for-Profit Law. The report, available online, included a series of recommendations for the relevant Ministries of the Interior and Finance calling especially for the adoption of legislation which would set out a “Public Benefit Status” category for NGOs. The NGO Working Group – formed in June 2008 and later renamed the NGO Initiative – was an effort on behalf of civil society to participate effectively in the public consultation process expected to be launched by the respective Ministries. “We had requested in our correspondence from the very beginning that our positions are taken into consideration in a future bill, and that we would like for there to be a consultation in line with standards set by the Council of Europe”, said Taki.

And there are serious shortcomings in the existing legislation. “The obstacles to registering an NGO under the Law on Associations and Foundations must be removed for the civil society sector to grow and become more professional”, says Nadia Karayianni, who represents the NGO Support Centre in the NGO Initiative. “Just recently we had the case of ACCEPT [an organisation working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights], for which official registration effectively depended on permission from the Church because the law asks for the opinion of so-called relevant stakeholders. I think this case illustrates clearly the problems associated with this approach.”

Exogenous factors have also made it harder for NGOs to operate effectively. At present there are disparate provisions for state funding for NGOs, with limited operational support available. There are also severe limitations on the activities that are deemed as ‘profit-making’ for NGOs, which makes financial sustainability a key concern. So when the government imposed a 350 Euro tax levy on registered companies, including not-for-profits in response to the financial crisis, those managing and working for not-for-profits have had to dig into their pockets to keep their organisations afloat. The likelihood is that this fee would have been avoided had new legislation been in place sooner. Taki insists that the problem is one of definition. “When you start structuring a bill you have to put some basic concepts down on paper, and this is where the state creates definitions that are conflicting with those given by the sector itself”, says Taki. “Instead of entering into a real dialogue they are trying to update the legislative framework based on outdated concepts of what constitutes public benefit activity.”

Things could be set to move before the end of the year. According to information obtained by the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC) the Ministry of Finance’s work on all aspects of the legislation reform, including feedback received on relevant aspects handled by the Inland Revenue Department, was concluded in May this year. The new legislation package will be sent to the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus for legal check once the summer period is over.

However for the process to be successful the Ministry of the Interior must expedite its own procedures as well. The submission of the two draft bills for Parliament approval at the same time will make it easier for lawmakers to see the correlation between them. “We are not aware of what is happening at the Ministry”, Taki insists. “We have had unanswered correspondence since November 2010! However, we acknowledge that a number of position changes took place in the last few months, and, having sent a new package to the Minister on 22 June of all this correspondence, we are hopeful that a constructive dialogue will start with Ms Eleni Mavrou very soon.”

From outside looking in, there is no reason why the appropriate legislative reforms cannot take place before the end of 2012. Inter-ministerial communication will be key for the bills to reach Parliament, and this is where the Planning Bureau could play its final role in the process. As the holder of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, a positive conclusion by December 2012 would be further indication of Cyprus’ European transition.

Links of the Week: Communications for Development

The internet is an incredible source of information, and we are reading and learning every day about issues we care about. So we thought that we would share with you the 5 most interesting links from the world of media, and this week our focus is on media, or communications more generally, for development.

1) ‘Media and governance: what the academics say’

Direct from the blog of Panos London comes a post from Mary Myers, a communications for development consultant specialising in radio in Africa, who has been pondering the question of whether “a pluralistic media can make the government more accountable”. In her post, Myers grapples with the academic angle of answering “yes” to a question that in reality is quite difficult to measure, based on a report she published for the Center for International Media Assistance. Read on to find out which theorists made it onto ‘who’s who’ list of media for development gurus.

 

 

2) ‘Media, Communication and Development: Three Approaches’

Staying with the academic side of things, and a new book by Linje Manyozo from the Department for Media and Communications at the London School of Economics (LSE). According to Ørecomm: Centre for Communication and Glocal Change, the book “critically investigates the three approaches that have characterised most debates in the field of Media, Communications and Development since its emergence in the 1950s, namely, media development, media for development and stakeholder and community engagement”. Ørecomm is a bi-national research group that originated at Malmö University (MAH) and Roskilde University (RUC) for research in the field of Communication for Development, and focuses on the relations between media, communication and social change processes at both global and local levels.

 

3) Media in Fragile Environments: The IONA Methodology

Today CCMC had the pleasure in meeting Eran Fraenkel, a media consultant and trainer who was involved in the development of the United States Institute of Peace‘s Intended-Outcomes Needs Assessment, or IONA for short, methodology, which will help address the lack of clear definition of expected outcomes for media interventions in conflict situations. We will certainly be taking a close look at IONA to see how we can best integrate it within our current working framework, as well as for any future projects we will be implementing in the field of development communications.

 

 

4) Tailor-made planning for NGOs

The Panos London blog has certainly made for interesting reading this week! Bec Shaw Crompton, Panos’ head of programme operations has been blogging about an under-estimated skills-set: project management. Most of us would agree that not enough emphasis is placed on this element of the institutional development of NGOs. He recommends Project Management for Development Professionals (PMD-Pro), the first internationally accredited project management course for NGOs, created by John Cropper who was Oxfam’s head of management accountability and is now a director at LINGOS (Learning In NGOs). Next step is to find out how we can get ourselves accredited on PMD-Pro!

5) Communicating Across borders in the South Caucasus

Last but not least, an entry from Accord, an international review of peace initiatives, published by the London-based organisation Conciliation Resources. In their piece on the role of media in peacebuilding in the South Caucasus, Rachel Clogg and Jenny Norton take a look at Conciliation Resources’ work in the region from 2002 to the present, showing how their work, in conjunction with others organisations focusing on the role of the media, have helped overcome borders, both real and imagined, that have kept people apart. Needless to say we understand how valuable this kind of work is given that we are immersed in this field day in day out. Let’s hope we can have the same degree of success, and perhaps at some point in the future we can work with Conciliation Resources in pursuit of what are obviously common goals.

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