Community Media in Transition, Vol. 10 - 2003, No. 1
This article provides a panoramic sketch of the characteristics of community media and focuses on three forms: community television, community radio and community networks. The author contends, after a review of research conducted around these media, that much of this work has contributed little to the development of theoretical perspectives and theoretical model building suitable for guiding further empirical investigations. An illustration, taken from one theoretical perspective, is provided of the kind of model building that can be achieved. In conclusion, community media researchers are encouraged to take up the challenge associated with the general mandate for social scientists to contribute to theory, in this case through construction of theoretically-grounded models for understanding the place of community media in society.
This article explores the concept of counter public spheres and their relationship to the dominant public sphere. We argue that counter public spheres are increasingly relevant due to particular social and political configurations that mark out a distinct stage of modernity. We suggest that this stage is characterised in particular by the intensification of globalisation, the rise of neo-liberalism and a decline of trust and social democracy resulting in instability in the dominant public sphere. This, along with the ability to forge solidarity between disparate groups and the technological potential to link geographical distances, political causes and to organise translocal protests opens up the possibility of symbolic contest in the dominant public sphere, increased participation in civil society and as a consequence, the extension of democracy. However, this depends on two main factors : (1) the nature of participation – does it simply build on associations of interest that may have arisen out of the individualisation of lifestyles organised around consumption in the market place or is it based on something more than enlightened self-interest? (2) The relative power and ability of counter publicity to break through the increasingly privatised dominant public sphere monopolised by transnational corporations.
This article analyses the types of communication tactics and frames employed by various groups leading up to and during the massive resistance to the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation in November 1999. Participant observation and frame analysis are employed to analyse the communication practices and messages of those groups protesting against the WTO. Organised institutions such as Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) tended to adopt a reformist frame, using professional communication routines and bureaucratic language, designed in part to appeal to the mainstream media. Decentralised “street movement” groups often employed a radical frame and grass-roots participatory communication tactics, which drew in part on a postmodern culture jamming ethos that sought to disrupt and resist the very existence of the WTO. These findings suggest that this new global movement should not be analysed as a monolith and that ultimately a social movement’s approach to media embodies important messages beyond mere content.
This article looks at the changing notion of access in communications policy. It compares the regime for community television access in Australia with new conceptions of access based on the notion of the information commons. Community television has been marginalised in broadcasting policy as it does not conform to the broadcasting regime of quid pro quo regulation whereby market stability is maintained in return for content requirements imposed upon the commercial broadcasters. In the new media environment (in particular that of the narrowband Internet), access has begun to be conceived of as openness or “intercreativity,” rather than as “access to” an otherwise controlled system. This article discusses how that change can contribute to the formation of new policy justifications for community broadcasting in the digital television environment. What is at stake is a shift from seeing community media as oppositional and marginal to new notions of community-based media that are empowering and generative in nature.
In 1998 the modality of the subsidy scheme for non-commercial local radio and television stations in Denmark was changed in favour of funding specific programs rather than distributing the biggest part of the funding based on programming hours, as was previously done. In relation to these changes, the authors of this article were commissioned by the Ministry of Culture to monitor and evaluate the development from 1999 to 2000, with special attention to the question of enhanced program quality as an outcome of the changes. According to the agreement with the ministry, the project consisted basically of four elements: the administrative level; a profile of selected stations; qualitative analyses of selected programs from the stations included; and finally the audience. The evaluation project was completed in spring 2002, and in this article some of the findings and methodological approaches are presented. In the first part, the predominantly quantitative findings regarding the economic ramifications of the change in the subsidy system are summarised together with the most important administrative questions. In the second part a case study of a television station is selected out of nine in-depth studies for presentation. The general aims of the article are to illustrate the methodology conducted (combing quantitative investigations, content analyses and audience research in the form of focus group interviews) and to present an overall summary of findings from the project.
Indonesia and its media are going through a rapid stage of transition. While the goal of this reform movement is the transition to a civil society and creation of a more democratic media system, the main result so far has been the liberalisation of the media market, in line with global media trends, which as such does not necessarily guarantee a more democratic communication system. One way to counter this development is though the decentralisation of radio and television, and the establishment of public and community media, which was under discussion in the Indonesian Parliament. This article presents the results of a qualitative research project carried out in several regions throughout Indonesia, which gave local people a platform to voice their ideas on the media portrayal of their “multiple identities” (e.g., cultural, political, economic, or ethnic), and their perception of the “viability” (problems, prospects, and promises) of alternative broadcasting in relation to the state and commercial broadcasters.
The article investigates the relationship between real and virtual social spaces and the role marital status plays in mediating it. Marital status is used as an indicator for emergence of “loose connections” in American society. The study employs survey data collected from 1812 Los Angeles residents. Data analysis by logistic regression and analysis of variance indicates that although singles find the Internet more attractive, due to its social capabilities (e.g., making new friends), it is married individuals that benefit the most from having on-line ties. The general conclusion is that integration of Internet technologies in social life is steered by off-line social contexts. Singles, who have weaker social ties and lower level of commitment to formal and informal organisations, instinctively see the Internet as a social opportunity. Yet, they will be far less successful in taking advantage of this opportunity than married individuals are. Married individuals benefit from what appears to be the Internet’s “magnifying glass” effect: strong personal bonds in reality are strengthened by making Internet friends.