Community Media Policy Proposal (in development, with your help!)

The Community Media Convergence is supported by a Connections grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The conference is planned as the culmination of research among community media practitioners, interested academics and stakeholders, to generate a policy proposal to support community media in the digital environment.

The applicants for this grant and the Steering Committee overseeing this work include:


  • Kirsten Kozolanka (Principal Investigator), School of Journalism and Communications, Carleton University
  • Dr. Dwayne Winseck, School of Journalism and Communications, Carleton University
  • Dr. Florian Sauvageau, Professor Emeritus, University of Laval
  • Dr. Robert Hackett, School of Communications, Simon Fraser University

Non-Academics/Community Media Practitioners:

  • Clifford Lincoln, Author "Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting"
  • Catherine Edwards, the Canadian Association of Community Television Users and Stations (CACTUS)
  • John Harris Stevenson, Co-Founder, the Community Radio Fund of Canada
  • David Murphy, Hand Eye Society
  • Darryl Richardson, The Media Co-op

The day to day work of the Community Media Policy Working Group draws on contributions from many individuals at different points in the process, including researchers familiar with alternative and community media and practitioners drawn from the community TV, radio, online and gaming sectors..)

Based on the survey and focus groups conducted in August and September of 2015 among community media networks and practitioners, the Community Media Policy Working Group is meeting weekly to develop a policy proposal that participants of the Community Media Convergence will have an opportunity to refine on the third day during a day-long policy development forum.

If you'd lke to read the report based on the survey and focus groups is posted here.

Community Media in the Digital Age: Relic or Renewal?

The report identified six themes that currently concern community media practitioners.

  1. the role and mandate (versus commercial and public media)
  2. governance
  3. content
  4. training
  5. accessibility
  6. funding

To these six themes, the Community Media Policy Working Group added two more, which weren't raised by survey respondents, possibly because questions were not asked about them specifically. They are nonetheless issues that have arisen in recent years with respect to policy and long term planning for community media:

  • copyright and intellectual property
  • archiving

The Working Group has drafted a value statement or ideal for community media in each theme area, and we'd like your feedback. The bold headings below are the themes survey respondents and the Working Group identified. Below each is a draft statement of value. If you would like to suggest additions or modifications, please use our Policy Discussion Board:

Comment on Values

Each week, the Working Group is checking the board to incorporate your feedback as we continue to elaborate a policy proposal to support community media in the digital environment.

Theme I: Unique Strengths and Role of Community Media

The 1991 Broadcasting Act, “Each element of the Canadian broadcasting system shall contribute in an appropriate manner to the creation and presentation of Canadian programming.” Due to the participation of ordinary citizens and community organizations in the production of community-owned not-for-profit structure, community media:

  • can serve smaller populations and generate more genres and variety of production than public- and private-sector media. It can offer hyperlocal reflection in neighbourhoods, small rural communities, and to underserved groups and voices in urban settings.
  • offer a democratic platform for free speech and diversity of voices, and a balance for media ownership concentration.

Theme II: Governance

Community media are independently owned and operated by not-for-profit community-based entities, whose structure and mandate provide for the participation of voluntary members of the community in governance, the day-to-day administration of the channel, and content creation, without prejudice.

Theme III: Content

Community media offer content created by members of a particular geographical locale (defined during the process of licencing or incorporation), who contribute to its production on a voluntary basis.

Theme IV: Copyright and Intellectual Property

Content originated by members of the public who avail themselves of the training, production support, and distribution platform(s) offered by a community media organization remain the intellectual property of the community member, although the organization’s constituting documents may require the right of first play or indefinite replays of the content created by community members.

Theme V: Training

Community media shall offer training to the general public in content production on new and traditional media, including but not limited to print, audio, video and rules-based content (i.e. games), however distributed.

Community media organizations shall have access to professional networking opportunities and training to support their work (which is a combination of production support and community facilitation) including:

  • the availability of post-secondary training for community media professionals
  • life-long support via professional or member association(s) that support community media

Theme VI - Accessibility (geographic and technical)

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states: “Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms... freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” In order for Canadians to exercise their right of freedom of expression in a digital democracy, community media organizations at which they can learn digital media skills, obtain content production support, and access platforms for the distribution of content shall be equally available across Canada.

In a given locality, particular community media services shall be made available on all delivery platforms such that all community members can partcipate and have effective dialogue, including by the most cost-effective means, such that neither income, physical nor mental ability, linguistic or ethnic identification, nor any other factor presents a barrier to access for any individual member or group within the community.

Theme VII: Funding

Community media in Canada shall be adequately funded so that they can achieve these goals. Non-commercial means of funding community media shall be prioritized as a polciy goal:

  • in light of community media’s democratic, media literacy training, and service role in the digital economy
  • in order to preserve a public-service relationship with community members who access the content

Theme VIII: Archiving and Legacy

In many geographic areas served by community media and for many special-interest groups served by community media, community media may provide the only print or audio-visual record through time. Community media shall therefore be formally recognized as part of the audio-visual heritage of Canada, and steps should be taken to preserve it to the same degree as public- and private-sector media.


On November 24th, at the Community Media Convergence, the Community Media Policy Working Group made the following proposals to enable community media in Canada to meet the values statements above.

Policy Proposals Nov. 24