Making the case for community media in the UK is more important now than it has ever been. It’s ten years since the New Voices report that led to the establishment of the Community Radio sector was updated.
When the report was first published Professor Anthony Everitt said: “This is radio not simply for the people, but by the people. The pilot projects gave hundreds of local volunteers the chance to become broadcasters, and produced real social gains for their communities as well as some lively radio. I have little doubt that, if it is introduced, Access Radio promises to will be one of the most important cultural developments in this country for many years.”
The question now is, are we in a better position now than we were then, or has government imposed austerity and consolidations in the market place made it harder for community media groups to thrive? Are we just paying lip-service to the ideals of community media, or is there a genuine future for all forms of collaborative and community media in the UK?
Across the world, particularly in developing countries and communities, community media is still regarded as an important driver for change. Both in terms of skills and capabilities of individuals, and also in interaction and the representation of communities. Community media is effective when it is clear about its objectives – either supporting social cohesion and expression, or providing an independent and alternative voice.
The challenge, however, is to find a financial model that will allow community media groups to flourish without succumbing to market pressures and to conform to mainstream tastes; but instead to articulate alternative views, to give people who don’t have a voice a chance to speak out, and to, perhaps most importantly, to find new ways to make things pay.
The Community Media Forum is a collaboration between Rob Watson at De Montfort University Leicester Media School, and John Coster of Citizen’s Eye, building a space that can bring people together from different community media backgrounds and experiences, to share and talk about how they have faced the challenges of running community media groups, and to think about how community media groups might be better supported and developed in the future.
Registering on the site is easy, follow the link for Community Media Forum and tell us a little about your role in community media, what drives you, and what you hope you can share with other community media activists.