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"For communication among alternative media producers, academics, artists, and activists." <[log in to unmask]>
Salvatore Scifo <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 6 Sep 2008 17:41:13 +0300
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Salvatore Scifo <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear All,
members of the list might be interested to this report on
'Promoting social cohesion. The role of community media', authored by
Peter Lewis, that has just been published on the Council of Europer
website at
(Home page of the Media division at

Best Wishes,


Executive summary

1. The report was commissioned by
the Group of Specialists on
Media Diversity (MC-S-MD) to:
• identify the most important
issues concerning the relationship
between media and social
• summarise existing definitions
of “third sector media” and classify
the sector according to
aspects such as ownership,
structure, funding, content/programming,
audience involvement
and different platforms,
including new media;
• discuss the positive and negative
effects of third sector media with
regard to social cohesion;
• describe existing measures to
support third sector media.
2. The report draws on academic
studies and reports from
UNESCO, AMARC (the World
Association of Community Radio
Broadcasters) and other NGOs
and begins with a summary of
some of the relevant theoretical
concepts that relate to social
cohesion, such as identity, community
and citizenship.
3. Citing a claim that Europe is currently,
as a result of migration,
witnessing “a change in the
nature of national cultures and
their capacity to sustain traditional
boundaries and identities”,
the report argues that the inability,
for various reasons, of public
service and commercial broadcasting
to meet the needs of
marginalised and disadvantaged
social groups means that third
sector media are becoming the
focus of official attention.
4. The report opts to use “community
radio” and “community
media” as terms in use by
UNESCO and AMARC, while discussing
the connotations of
other descriptive labels.
AMARC’s Community Radio
Charter for Europe is provided as
Annex 1, and the organisation’s
summary definition of community
radio is cited. Community
should not be run for profit but for
social gain and community benefit;
it should be owned by and accountable
to the community that it seeks
to serve; and it should provide for
participation by the community in
programme making and in management.
5. Characteristics of community
media are discussed in turn, the
most important being enabling
legislation, regulation and policies.
A table of 22 European
countries shows the size of the
sector, its legal status, whether
there is funding and the presence
or not of a national association
representative of the sector.
There follow sections on ownership,
content, funding sources
for local projects, audience
involvement and audience
research, the public profile of the
sector, training, and some examples
of multiplatform initiatives.
Examples are drawn mainly
from Europe but also from India
(whose policy guidelines for setting
up community radio stations
constitutes Annex 2), the
USA, Canada and, in particular,
from Australia, where recent
research into community audiences
provides a model of
method and some findings relevant
to the European context.
6. On the question of whether third
sector media contribute to social
cohesion or threaten it, the evidence
points to the sector being
an important factor in social
cohesion and citizenship, particularly
for minority ethnic communities
and refugee and
migrant communities. The discussion
draws on examples of
multicultural programming by
the Intermedia project and practice
in Europe and Australia and
underlines the importance of
music and news in connecting
newly arrived communities to
their original cultural capital as
well as drawing in the native
7. Measures to support third sector
media suggested by AMARC,
the Community Forum for Europe
(CMFE) and the Culture and
Education Committee of the
European Parliament are summarised
and it is suggested that
the Council of Europe should
encourage member states to:
• create legislative infrastructure,
without which community
media cannot develop;
• preserve analogue frequencies
that may in some countries continue
to be needed after the digital
switchover, and to ensure
that community media are not
disadvantaged in the digital
• recognise the social value of
community media and its role as
a form of local public service by
committing funds to support the
sector, both directly, with
schemes such as the French levy
on the commercial audiovisual
sector (FSER), the allocation of a
portion of the licence fee (Ireland,
some German Länder) or
by lowering the cost of licences,
and indirectly, through funding
projects as part of government
programmes directed towards
health, community development,
education, social inclusion,
support for minority ethnic
communities, etc.
More specifically, the Council of
Europe should consider:
• commissioning studies of best
practice in community media,
surveys of emerging needs such
as multicultural programming
and audience research on the
Australian model;
• supporting a trans-European
network to monitor policy, a
community media observatory;
• encouraging training schemes as
part of lifelong learning and
media literacy;
• supporting programme
exchange within the European
community media sector and
beyond, with regions which are
the “homelands” of diasporic
• supporting the exchange of staff
and volunteers for short periods
between community media
• facilitating workshops to study
funding opportunities;
• inviting representatives of
AMARC and the CMFE to attend
relevant committees as observers
and to participate in meetings
and conferences.