Working Group Issues Draft Report: Community Media in the Digital Age: Relic or Renewal
October 28, 2015 (Ottawa) — The Community Media Policy Working has published a draft report that calls for further research as well as a more coherent approach to community media in the digital environment. The Working Group, charged with conducting the research underpinning the Community Media Convergence, is made up of community media practitioners and academics and is supported by high-profile figures like former Chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Clifford Lincoln, and former Chair of the Working group on Broadcasting Policy, Florian Sauvageau. The report entitled "Community Media in the Digital Era: Relic or Renewal", is based on an online survey and focus groups that were conducted in August and September of this year and which was distributed throughout community media networks.
The study unearthed a pattern of closures of community media organizations over the last decade and observes, “The current policy approach by the CRTC to community media is a legacy of analogue, mass media broadcasting technologies and practices that isolated community media according to their platform of distribution . . . A more comprehensive inquiry into digital technologies and the community media sector that takes into account technological convergence is long overdue.” When asked about the continued relevance of community media in a time when most Canadians have access to the Internet and social media, an overwhelming 96% of respondents to the survey said that formal policies and funding are still necessary to support community media organizations. Reasons cited included the need for local institutions with community-elected boards of directors that can provide editorial guidance and training in digital media, are aware of community needs, and are answerable to communities for the coverage and consistent local reflection they offer.
Interestingly, the report also concludes that current policy goals for community media as articulated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) are in alignment with what the sector wants. If there are gaps, it's in the implementation “The challenge for the sector and for agencies whose policies impact community media is ... not only to update policy goals in the digital environment, but to review the methods for achieving existing goals.
The general public and conference-goers can comment on the report in the online forum on the conference web site here .
Over the next month, as the Working Group generates specific policy proposals to address the themes raised by survey respondents, they will be posted here, so watch this space!