On Monday evening, staff and volunteers of Radio ARA took to the streets in an effort to raise awareness of its difficult financial situation and to encourage politicians to officially recognise community media in Luxembourg.
Staff and volunteers gathered at Rotondes in Luxembourg-Bonnevoie, from where they marched to the Chamber of Deputies (Luxembourg's parliament), carrying lanterns in a symbolic gesture - the age-old Luxembourgish tradition that brings light to the people (Liichten), but this time Radio ARA brought light to the politicians.
In a press release, Radio ARA once again stressed the importance of community radio, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, in giving a voice to minorities, widening access to information and contributing to media literacy and media pluralism. Despite the diversity of Luxembourg's population, community media is still not recognised as the third pillar of the media sector - an exception in Europe.
This recognition is also about survival for Radio ARA, which has been in discussions with the Ministry for Communication and Media for the past three years in efforts to secure its future. The past year saw the radio enter acute financial danger. According to Radio ARA, the role role of community media has been continuously brushed aside during ongoing discussions about the new press aid and what constitutes public service. Only through crowdfunding and other external financial aid has the radio managed to stay afloat. Yet during this period, Radio ARA has received international recognition, for example from the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE), for its support of the various international communities in Luxembourg.
In a spontaneous meeting between Radio ARA and the Media Ministry on Monday afternoon, the radio was offered what it has described as a basic compromise that will offer some financial security for the station, although the details are yet to be clarified.
Whilst Radio ARA expressed relief at such a development, the radio maintained that its survival is also linked to the question of what tomorrow's media landscape in Luxembourg should look like - a question which the radio believes has not been adequately addressed in current discussions. The EU's Media Pluralism Monitor 2020 once again pointed out that media in Luxembourg (in particular radio) is concentrated in the hands of a few organisations and that minorities have very limited access to the media.
Radio ARA concluded that the ability of public pressure to "bring politics to a standstill" is a "sign of hope". That being said, the radio warned against complacency, stressing that "it is not enough to simply put out fires".