How we began
The Media Advocacy Group, a collective of professionals from the fields of journalism, advertising, research and publishing, came together in 1992 when the media, both print and television, were witnessing phenomenal growth and engaging a broad spectrum of socio-economic age and gender groups.
They created culture specific monitoring tools to assess the shifting patterns of Indian programming to keep track of the rapid progress that was being made in broadcasting because the media research tools used in the west were not adequate for assessing the shifting patterns of representation in terms of gender, minority and marginalized groups.
This media monitoring was supplemented with audience research aimed at ascertaining what viewers watch, with whom, when and how a programme impacts them. It turned audiences into active partners in the broadcasting process and resulted in the authentic documentation of viewers’ preference. It also made these groups aware of their rights as consumers.
Alongside, Viewers’ Forums, comprising of groups of individuals, primarily of urban middle class viewers, who were willing to give feedback and collectively interact, share views and negotiate with decision makers in the media were formed in Delhi, Mau, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.
CFAR is born
One January 28,1998, the group which was part of Women’s Feature Service created a separate institutional entity that would focus on the needs and concerns of women, children, the poor and marginalized communities; resulting in the creation of the Centre for Advocacy and Research.
The focus was on a strong gender and development perspective given the growing influence that media was having in shaping public perceptions of gender and development. The team decided to focus on the media, critically review media content, conduct surveys on emerging trends and use their findings to create awareness among the media about emerging trends and critical issues.
The team did several seminal studies on issues ranging from the impact that television violence had on children to an analysis of the depiction of adolescence by the electronic media. It also diversified into related areas and created a communication strategy for the District Primary Education Programme, set up a Women and Media Network with likeminded groups in Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore and Viewer’s Forums in the four cities of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mau. These forums have been taking the lead in motivating and educating communities and are a constant source of organized viewer activism.
Today CFAR has more than 850 team members working across 10 states under various projects in the capacity of full time worker, professional consultants and experts and part time/ short term issue based consultants/ freelancing associates.
Their expertise extends to:
• Designing, planning and implementing communication strategies
• Partnership stakeholders in creating schemes
• Building capacities of forum members, Community Groups, likeminded organisation and individuals to address their issue based rights
• Building community centered awareness on their concerns
• Documenting innovative development initiatives