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(Be)Longing Media: Minority Radio between Cultural Retention and Renewal
Unformatted Document Text:  13 economic and political union (Godard, Llobera and Shore, 1994). Such prescriptive politics of cultural belonging at a transnational level has made it difficult for migrants to fit in Europe simply because their origins fall outside of an ideal circle that is referred to as ‘fortress Europe’. BeurFm: Beyond Ethnic Compartmentalization Faced with the high costs of television production and marketing, immigrants in France have turned to radio ever since the state ended its monopoly over broadcasting in 1981. (Derderian, 1997) North Africans, who account for 40% of the country’s 5 million immigrants (INSEE, 1994), have been particularly active in creating radio stations, especially in Paris and Marseilles as an attempt to counter-balance their marginalization in French mainstream media. There were about 12 stations broadcasting to the North African community alone in 1991, and, according to the latest statistics, Arabic speakers filed 23 applications for a frequency in 1987 and 19 between 1991 and 1992. Most of these stations differ in style (informative, educational, entertainment), language (Arabic, Berber – a dialect widely spoken in North Africa- or French), and mission (cultural/religious, preservation or integration). The experience of these community radio stations, as they came to be called, has been extremely beneficial in the sense that they have transformed quite radically the French public sphere and provided vital spaces for free expression. Radio Beur, currently Beur FM, first started in 1979 as a pirate station, then turned into a community radio in the 1980s before it became a commercial station in 1991. It defines itself as a multicultural institution seeking recognition of all marginalized

Authors: Echchaibi, Nabil.
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economic and political union (Godard, Llobera and Shore, 1994). Such prescriptive
politics of cultural belonging at a transnational level has made it difficult for migrants to
fit in Europe simply because their origins fall outside of an ideal circle that is referred to
as ‘fortress Europe’.
BeurFm: Beyond Ethnic Compartmentalization
Faced with the high costs of television production and marketing, immigrants in
France have turned to radio ever since the state ended its monopoly over broadcasting in
1981. (Derderian, 1997) North Africans, who account for 40% of the country’s 5 million
immigrants (INSEE, 1994), have been particularly active in creating radio stations,
especially in Paris and Marseilles as an attempt to counter-balance their marginalization
in French mainstream media. There were about 12 stations broadcasting to the North
African community alone in 1991, and, according to the latest statistics, Arabic speakers
filed 23 applications for a frequency in 1987 and 19 between 1991 and 1992. Most of
these stations differ in style (informative, educational, entertainment), language (Arabic,
Berber – a dialect widely spoken in North Africa- or French), and mission
(cultural/religious, preservation or integration). The experience of these community radio
stations, as they came to be called, has been extremely beneficial in the sense that they
have transformed quite radically the French public sphere and provided vital spaces for
free expression.
Radio Beur, currently Beur FM, first started in 1979 as a pirate station, then
turned into a community radio in the 1980s before it became a commercial station in
1991. It defines itself as a multicultural institution seeking recognition of all marginalized


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