- For the first time in El Salvador, a community radio is broadcasting under its own licence. The struggle continues, however, for legislative change that will give these kinds of broadcasters more airspace.
After years of challenges, Radio Mangle finally began broadcasting this week to over 200 communities in the area known as Bajo Lempa, in the municipality of Jiquilisco, in the south of the province of Usulután.
“This is a historic moment, the result of years of hard work and social pressure,” radio presenter Mario Martínez, coordinator of the Mangle Association, which developed the project, told IPS. As of Jan. 14, the radio station is broadcasting on 106.1 FM from the community of Ciudad Romero, in the El Zamorán district of Jiquilisco.
In October, the state-run General Superintendence of Electricity and Telecommunications (SIGET) awarded this frequency to a public agency, which transferred it to Radio Mangle, making it the first community radio in the country to obtain a licence. Since then, the Mangle Association has been busy preparing for its maiden broadcast.
The emergence of community radios in El Salvador dates back to 1992, at the end of the 12-year civil war, when opportunities for sharing opinions and dissent opened up. But these radios have faced issues for lacking permits; some radio stations have been closed down and violently evicted from their premises by the police.
The Telecommunications Law of 1997 tacitly allows community radio stations to operate, but they must acquire their frequencies through public auctions, putting them at a disadvantage with respect to business media groups