The South Asia Network for Community Media (SANCOM) is a network set up:
- To promote community media in the South Asia region, so as to create and sustain a democratic and pluralistic media environment;
- To foster the growth of alternative, citizen’s media in order to amplify grassroots community voices;
- To encourage access, especially that of marginalized communities, to technologies of representation and, thereby, uphold their right to communicate;
- To use communication for development within a participatory framework, such that people’s knowledge and their capacities are valued and recognized;
- To connect with progressive social movements involved in wider struggles for people’s rights for equity and social justice.
SANCOM is a forum where freedom of expression is promoted and media development is strengthened. In addition, the network fosters democratic problem solving and dialogue which in turn supports capacity building, knowledge sharing and advocacy. Generally, the overall intention is to have SANCOM transformed into a community think tank with specific work for the countries involved. It would not be engaged in micro level management nor encourage any political collaborations.
The network sees ‘community media’ as technologically mediated forms of communication (e.g. print, radio, video/television, film, mobile telephony, and Internet-based platforms) that are established by civil society organizations and educational institutions (as against media owned by the state and the market). These media outlets tend to be not-for-profit initiatives that embrace the principle of community participation not only in production processes, but also in ownership/management.
The countries currently involved in the SANCOM initiative are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The membership is in keeping with that of the inter-governmental regional body, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which seeks to promote economic, political, social and cultural ties among its member countries.