Five key words describe community radio:
Diversity Access Independence Innovation Localism
Community radio is Australia’s largest radio sector with 285 stations nationally. There are more community radio stations than commercial stations, and more than ABC and SBS radio combined. More than 20,000 people are involved in community radio nationwide, and over 9.5 million Australians listen. (Source: McNair Ingenuity Community Radio Station Census 2013 and National Listener Survey)
Community radio is a very diverse sector, so it can be hard to define. Community radio is not-for-profit, non-commercial and is supported by its listeners & communities. It’s community voices, so no two stations sound alike. It’s also a place for innovation in broadcasting, and increasingly in cross-platform media via the Internet, and for its independent views on public issues, free of commercial and political controls. Community radio thrives on the energy of our volunteer station workers and reflects the concerns of the communities we serve.
Community broadcasting began as public radio in the early 1970s with three main objectives:
- To open up broadcasting to individuals and communities which couldn’t gain access to other media;
- To expand program choices to satisfy the diverse needs of diverse communities;
- To enable community organisations to own, operate and control their own broadcasting services, helping to diversify control of the media.
Enthusiasm and hard work by thousands of people have created more than 285 community radio stations all over Australia. Most of these stations, including 8CCC Community Radio Inc, are members of the CBAA – Community Broadcasters Association of Australia. The CBAA offers advice on all community broadcasting matters – legal, programming, technical, administrative, fundraising, sponsorship, station management, copyright, training, tax etc, including producing and updating the Community Broadcasting Codes of Practice. CBAA coordinates sector campaigns, regular listener surveys, conferences and webinars and it provides community radio stations around the country with access to programs via the Community Radio Network and access to music by Australian independent artists through AMRAP.
Other important sector organisations include:
- NEMBC – National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters Council http://www.nembc.org.au/ – whose members are ethnic community program groups
- AICA – the Australian Indigenous Communications Authority http://aicainc.org.au/ representing Indigenous broadcasters across the country
- Radio for the Print Handicapped, http://rph.org.au
- Christian Media Australia, www.christianmedia.org.au
- Community Broadcasting Foundation , an independent non-profit funding agency that administers and distributes funding to support community broadcasting in Australia. http://www.cbf.com.au
Objectives of Community Radio
These are outlined in the Community Broadcasting Codes of Practice. In brief, a community broadcasting licensee will:
- be a non-profit organisation which operates with a community as defined in its licence
- provide broadcasts in response to the particular and general needs of the community as determined by that community, recognising an obligation to cater to the needs of those denied effective access to, and those not adequately served by other media
- provide for active participation by that community in its management, development and operations; and
- determine a programming & management policy for that community which opposes and breaks down all forms of censorship, discrimination and prejudice
As a community broadcaster, 8CCC Community Radio Inc is subject to all laws and regulations set out in the Broadcasting Services Act of 1992. The Act defines what a community broadcaster is and key elements of how it must operate to fulfill its licence conditions. The regulatory body is called ACMA, the Australian Communications Media Authority www.acma.gov.au.
Most regulations have something to do with what may be broadcast on the public airwaves. They relate to prevailing public and society standards about decency, blasphemy, defamation and other subjects or statements, which are generally considered to be offensive or unacceptable to the listening public.
Ethnic communities and multicultural groups and organisations have had a long involvement in community broadcasting, since the early 1970s. As migrants and communities of people from non-English speaking backgrounds, they saw community radio as an accessible, low cost means of being able to communicate and build supportive communities. There were very few or no other sources of information that catered for their interests and needs. Ethnic broadcasting is an important way of recognising and understanding the diversity of cultural, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds in Australia. Radio for or by ethnic communities is important as it provides:
- Information about government, community services and events
- Information for newly arrived migrants about services, rights and responsibilities
- Information that allows people to be more involved in society
- News from country of birth and from the region and state
- Language and cultural maintenance, recognition and expression and a sense of building and maintaining community
8CCC encourages all ethnic and multicultural groups in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek communities to participate in community radio.
- CBX 40th birthday edition – includes a history of community radio by John Martin
- Voices and Vision
- Other CBAA publications
Printed copies of the Community Broadcasting Codes of Practice, Voices and Vision, CBX magazine and summaries of the latest community broadcasting surveys are available in the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek studios.