Radiocommunication Study Groups


Collaboration between broadcasting organisations in emergency situations



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Collaboration between broadcasting organisations in emergency situations


Broadcasters in most cities have developed coordination networks that allow stations to share limited microwave channels for news gathering. These same networks are used during emergencies to pool feed coverage to all stations and obtain the most efficiency from the microwave band for news gathering. Additionally, stations in overlapping markets routinely share video coverage and many TV stations partner with radio stations and allow them to rebroadcast their TV audio over radio, in order to reach citizens who are listening on battery-powered radios. These are usually people who have lost power and must rely on car or portable radios for news and information.

The Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) Network (www.cdacnetwork.org) is a London-based network of UN agencies, international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and media development organisations that is committed to the development of communication with disaster affected communities.

BBC Media Action is a founder member of this organisation, which was created in 2009. CDAC works closely with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement to promote the systematic use of two-way communication with disaster affected communities in all humanitarian emergencies.

Broadcasting plays a fundamental role in such communications, alongside mobile telecommunications and traditional face-to-face communication activities.

Four media development agencies which specialise in using information transmitted by radio as a form of aid in humanitarian emergencies are currently members of CDAC. These are:


  • BBC Media Action (http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/).

  • Internews (http://internews.org/), a US-based media development organisation.

  • First Response Radio (http://firstresponseradio.org/), a global specialist in setting up emergency radio services serving disaster-affected communities.

  • International Media Support (IMS) (http://www.i-m-s.dk/), a Danish media development organisation. It runs Radio Ergo, (www.radioergo.org), a Nairobi-based humanitarian radio station serving Somalia.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation (http://www.trust.org/), the charitable arm of the Reuters news agency, which operates the humanitarian information service Alternet (http://www.trust.org/?show=alertnethumanitarian), is also a full member of CDAC.

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) now looks to CDAC's member agencies to coordinate the communications response to a breaking emergency, before they apply for funding to execute such activities through the UK DFID's Rapid Response Facility.

In August 2013, CDAC was in advanced negotiations to secure core funding from the UK DFID which would allow the organisation to play a more direct role in coordinating the communications response to major humanitarian emergencies in the coming years.

In some countries, ad-hoc bodies have already been formed at the country level to coordinate government and aid agency communications with affected communities during a humanitarian emergency. These initiatives are often off-shoots of humanitarian coordination bodies that have been formed to coordinate all development and emergency response activity in the country.


Typically, such a forum brings together the main government departments involved in emergency response activities, UN agencies, international and local NGOs, the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement and leading players in the local media. They may also include international donors and the country's main telecommunications operators.

In Nepal, BBC Media Action leads the Communications Sub-Group of one such body called the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC) (http://un.org.np/coordinationmechanism/nrrc/communicationgroup). The NRRC focuses mainly on disaster preparedness, but its communications activities extend into disaster response.

In Bangladesh, BBC Media Action is helping to form a permanent working group to coordinate two-way communication with the affected population in humanitarian emergencies. This body, called Communicating with Communities in Emergencies, includes representatives of the Ministry of Disaster Management, UN agencies, international and local NGOs, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and BBC Media Action. In August 2013 it was still negotiating the participation of leading Bangladeshi media organisations and mobile telecoms operators.

Bilateral cooperation between different media development organisations in humanitarian emergencies is also becoming more common. Between 2010 and 2012, BBC Media Action and Internews worked together as partners in the infoasaid project. Infoasaid (www.infoasaid.org) promoted the adoption of two-way communication between aid agencies and disaster-affected populations. It set up several pilot projects in East Africa with partners that included ActionAid, World Vision, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Most of these pilot projects involved partnerships with local radio stations in Kenya and Somalia, for the production and broadcast of special disaster relief programming.

In August 2013, BBC Media Action and Internews were discussing a new partnership for humanitarian broadcasting in South Sudan. Both countries already have offices in the capital Juba and a portfolio of media development activities in the country focussed on radio.

The following Annexes provide further examples of collaboration between broadcasting organisations in emergency situations:



  • Annex 6A: Louisiana Public Broadcasting - Collaboration between broadcasting organisations.

  • Annex 6B: International Association of Broadcasting - Cooperation between broadcasters and government entities.



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