The future of community broadcasting : civil society and communications policy

Rennie, Elinor Mary (2003) The future of community broadcasting : civil society and communications policy. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Will community television one day be lamented in the same way as the Glenn Valley Bridge Club in Pennsylvania, where no one remains 'who can tell us precisely when or why the group broke up' (Putnam, 2000: 15)? Robert Putnam's bestseller Bowling Alone proposed that people 'need to reconnect with one another' and rebuild their communities for the good of society. Although he may not have succeeded in instigating a revival of lawn bowls and bridge, Putnam did spark a debate about the meaning of "community" today and its role in bringing about positive social change. At a time when the communications landscape is set to transform with the introduction of digital broadcasting technology, this thesis looks at the status of community broadcasting and its role within civil society. Taking Australia's community television sector as its starting point, it aims to define the pressures, public philosophies and policy decisions that make community broadcasting what it is. This thesis is structured thematically and geographically. The introductory chapters establish the research question in relation to Australia's community broadcasting sector. As well as tracing the intellectual path of community media studies, it sets out to locate community broadcasting within broader intellectual debates around notions of community, governance and the media. These are brought back to the "on-the-ground" reality throughout the thesis by means of policy analysis, interviews and anecdotal evidence. Chapters Three to Five map out the themes of access, the public interest and development by reference to community broadcasting in different regions. In North America I explore notions of free speech and first-come-first served models of access. In Europe, notions of "quality", public service broadcasting and the difficult relationship that community broadcasting has with public interest values. Through the Third World and the Third Way I examine how community broadcasting is implicated within development discourse and ideas of social change. The final chapter of the thesis moves into the virtual region of the Internet, looking at changing notions of access and the relevance of new communications rationales to the community broadcasting project. At the intersection of the various themes and models discussed throughout the thesis exists a strong rationale for the future of community broadcasting. Although new technologies may be interpreted as the beginning of the end of community broadcasting, I have argued that in fact it is an idea whose time has come.

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ID Code: 15829
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Spurgeon, Christina & Cunningham, Stuart
Keywords: access, civil society, communitarianism, community broadcasting, communications policy, cultural policy, development, digital television, free speech, new media policies, non-commercialism, quality
Department: Creative Industries
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Elinor Mary Rennie
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:50
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:39

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