Teaching Assistant: Jason Pramas, jpramas@igc.org



Community Media Wikipedia Definition Assignment

Action Steps*

  1. Collect existing definitions of Community Media -- 3/7/07 full class meeting
  2. Group/categorize existing definitions -- 3/14/07
  3. Develop outline of Community Media article -- 3/28/07
  4. Write collective article draft -- 4/4/07
  5. Collectively edit draft, and submit for review by Prof. Fred Johnson and TMG meeting -- 4/11/07
  6. Publish final draft on Wikipedia -- 4/18/07

*work will be completed primarily on this wiki as homework



Collaborative Media Workshop Assignment

Action Steps*


1st Collaborative Media meeting -- 3/1/07
  • Set date for workshop
  • Reserve space for workshop (probably Taylor Center)
  • Consider audience for workshop

2nd Collaborative Media meeting -- 3/15/07
  • Make list of ideas for workshop
  • Narrow list to 2 or 3 main points
  • Create draft workshop outline

3rd Collaborative Media meeting -- 3/29/07
  • Organize outreach and PR for workshop
  • Finalize workshop outline
  • Assign workshop responsibilites

4th Collaboriatve Media meeting--4/5/07
  • Workshop walkthrough

5th/6th Collaborative Media meeting
  • Hold Workshop April 10, 5 p.m. and April 11th, 2 p.m.

7th Collaborative Media meeting --4/19/07
  • Evaluate workshop
  • Laissez les bon temps rouler!

*work will be completed primarily in occasional Collaborative Media Project meetings



Community Media Definitions

please add your assigned definitions below--and don't forget to put your name on top of your section


Steve
Community media "originates, circulates, and resonates from the sphere of civil society....This is the of media communication that exists outside of the state and the market (often non-government and non-profit), yet which may interact with both." (Community Media: a Global Introduction by Ellie Rennie)

Community media provide a vital alternative to the profit-oriented agenda of corporate media. They are driven by social objectives rather than the private, profit motive. They empower people rather than treat them as passive consumers, and they nurture local
knowledge rather than replace it with standard solutions. Ownership and control of community media is rooted in, and responsible to, the communities they serve. And they are committed to human rights, social justice, the environment and sustainable approaches to development. Global Policy Forum

Much is promised by the information society - access to vital knowledge for health and education, better information from
governments and corporations, electronic democracy, global trade and exchange, up to the minute news. But because they lack the resources to make their voices heard in this shifting social landscape, the world's poorest communities face the twin dangers of being left out of this new economy and becoming a cultural dumping ground for mass market products made by and for the richest economies.

Community media help balance these inequities. They provide the means for cultural expression, community discussion, and debate. They supply news and information and facilitate political engagement. Radio is the most widespread electronic communications device in the world and community radio is a practical and cost-effective means of reaching and connecting the world's poorest communities. Independent and community publications provide news and views that are often framed out of the corporate media. And in the field of Community Informatics (see below), web-based media are increasingly seen as means for helping communities achieve social, economic, cultural and political goals. Global Policy Forum

Community media is defined by any resources and means that individuals and communities (community can be seen as geographical, language-based, interest-based, cultural, religious, sexual orientation, etc., etc, essentially it is a commonality that unites people) can generate and utilize to express views, ideas, and opinions to others in the same community and beyond. This is achieved through the participation of staff, volunteers(essential to community building), listeners, readers, and viewers. It is consumer participation in the digital age (Rennie). Community media is the
manifestation of civil society and the application of civic duty and responsibility that transcends politics and philosophical beliefs. It is simply a means by which to engage in dialogue that one would otherwise be unable to do in the mainstream media. As Ellie Rennie puts it, community media is "community communication." It is facilitated in large part by the advent of digital new media, but can also be in the form of radio, microradio, print, PEG Acess, and DIY publications. (personal definition of community media)






Aaron

Community Media is community owned and controlled, giving access to voices in the community and encouraging diversity, creativity and participation. Community media provide a vital counterbalance to the increasing globalisation and commercialisation of the media. Community Media is providing media and information communication technology access, training and employment and is an exciting source of social innovation and practical 'joined up' outcomes. Combining social enterprise, creative content production and skills for the digital economy, Community Media has a vital role in reaching out to people and communities at risk of exclusion and disadvantage. Community-based radio, television and Internet projects work by enabling people to become media producers, to send as well as to receive, and, by working together, to reinforce knowledge, dialogue and cultural expression at neighbourhood and community level. CommunityMediaAssociation


Guled

Community media is any form of communications which is noncommercial by nature for the community. The purpose of community media is access that the media activity should improve the quality of life in the community. It provides a passage for free speech and personal expression. A truthful local news and up-to-date information is one of its priorities. It has great purpose for community building. It gives free access to citizens’ who entrust in the creative process, development of arts and cultural activities. Community media make a links for the community and voluntary sector to the local authorities for social rejuvenation. It promotes problem-solving methodology for community with the public at-large. Its standpoint is to strength the democratic process, pluralism, and promotion of citizen’s involvement in their communities and the public.


José P.

Community Media: Is that media that allows access and participation of and to a, geographically, as well as in terms of interest, language, cultural or ethnic community or group. Usually is not run on a profit basis and it also provides community members with the oportunity to participate in the production process. It is also seen as an army of new noncommercial players who could break up the concentration of media power that was held in so few corporate hands.

Development Media: Much development-based community media is designed to achieved economic or political outcomes, such as overcoming poverty or peace building. It is also the use of community media for development purposes, in particular the assumption that the establishment of community media will lead to positive social change.

Participatory Media: Participatory media are social media whose value and power derives from the active participation of many people. This is a psychological and social characteristic.

Citizen Media: Citizen Media, Participatory Media, or Democratic Media refers to any form of content produced by private citizens, which has as its goal to inform and empower all members of society. This includes inclusive production models such as public access, community technology centers, digital storytelling, e-democracy, citizen journalism, zines, Independent Media Centers, blogs, vlogs (video blogs), and podcasting (audio blogs).

Citizens’ Media: This terms is about community. It tears down the authority of the big median and establishes the authority of the audience. In other words, the people you are trying to reach are now making media.

Sam
The term Community Media is one that has many different catagories and definitions within those catigories, but at it's most basic it is nothing less than various forms of media that a group or community have access to. It promotes the views, issues and concerns of said community, as well as promoting active participation from the people. It gives the people access to education, information, and entertainment when they want it, while also being the planners, producers, and performers of those various forms of media. This also gives that community the ability to facilitate feedback and transmit its reactions to organizations and policies. It also gives the community a voice that they won't recieve from the major media.



Group/Categorize Existing Definitions

please work with the following categories and add your own--plug in the main concepts from the existing definitions you found last week to relevant categories--group similar definitions under each category for later consolidation


Non-Profit
This is the of media communication that exists outside of the state and the market (often non-government and non-profit), yet which may interact with both.
Community media provide a vital alternative to the profit-oriented agenda of corporate media. They are driven by social objectives rather than the private, profit motive.
Public funding , listener subscription, and advertisements of a limited kind constitute a major part of these sources in different countries, although one or another are objected to on ideological or pragmatic grounds in some places (p. 3, Rennie).
In the broadcasting realm, the nonprofit construction of community media is a deliberate measure to ensure that communtiy interests are not overlooked or overcome as result of economic incentives (p. 35, Rennie).

Geographic Scope
Community Media has a vital role in reaching out to people and communities at risk of exclusion and disadvantage.
Community can be seen as geographical, language-based, interest-based, cultural, religious, sexual orientation, etc., etc, essentially it is a commonality that unites people
The phrase ‘community media’ can be interpreted literally as media which engages with a particular community, to the exclusion of other communities. Therefore, all media products are essentially community media as they each address a particular community. This ‘community’ could be a global one, a regional one, a class based one, a language based one (with or without overlaps), and so on. Media South Asia, from www.thehoot.org

Local News and Info
They empower people rather than treat them as passive consumers, and they nurture local knowledge rather than replace it with standard solutions.
Essentially, I consider Grassroots media to be a subset of Community Media, where Grassroots indicates that the media product involved is produced by individuals or groups within the very community which is served. Grassroots media is decidedly non-commercial and generally attempts to serve a narrower or more specific audience than more general Community media. from http://www.mediageek.org/rfc/media.html by Paul Riismandel
(From this perspective local news and info is predicated on the targeted community which can be extremely localized as well as global. Much of this is dependent on the modality(ies) implemented. For example a microradio endeavor can focus on a geographically specific community while a website can be specific in terms of the targeted community but vast in geographic scope. The distinction of grassroots media as a subset of community media illuminates this possibility)

Civil Society
Community media "originates, circulates, and resonates from the sphere of civil society.... (p. 4, Rennie).
Community media, being a media that is produced by civil society groups, has a unique relationship to the types of citizen participation that occur through civil society engagement (p. 34, Rennie).
Community media is created out of the belief that civil society requires communication platforms (p. 34, Rennie).
Community media should therefore be seen as a means to the maintenance and extension of civil society by civil society itself (p. 36, Rennie).

Community Participation
Community Media is community owned and controlled, giving access to voices in the community and encouraging diversity, creativity and participation.
Ownership and control of community media is rooted in, and responsible to, the communities they serve.
As Ellie Rennie puts it, community media is "community communication."
Community media is sometimes pursued as a means to achieve social change. For instance, it can bring skills to a particular community,, helping community members to participate in the knowledge economy (p. 37, Rennie).

Democracy
Community media provide a vital counterbalance to the increasing globalisation and commercialisation of the media.
They provide the means for cultural expression, community discussion, and debate. They supply news and information and facilitate political engagement.
Democracy-meaning to rule in the interests of the people-is also a central concept in community media studies as access and participation have been pursued out of a belief that people have a right to directly represent themselves within the media (p. 6, Rennie).
Citizenship theory focuses on people's responsibilities, roles, loyalties, and differences, and how these factors can be accommodated for democratic outcomes. Community and alternative media can be seen as an articulation of citizenship, when citizenship is seen as the day-to-day endeavor to renegotiate and construct new levels of democracy and equality (p. 21, Rennie).


Modalities of Community Media
Radio is the most widespread electronic communications device in the world and community radio is a practical and cost-effective means of reaching and connecting the world's poorest communities.
Television content is more expensive (than radio) and complicated to produce, but this is becoming less of an issue as cameras and editing software reach a larger market (p. 4, Rennie).
Print media has had its fair share of legal obstacles (and worse under repressive regimes), but in democratic states people are free to publish print media without permission from their government (p. 4, Rennie).
The alternative press press demonstrates that community-based media possess a culture of media making that is very different from the professional media. They turn readers into writers, thereby bringing new ideas into the cultural sphere (p. 23, Rennie).
Community Informatics (see below), web-based media are increasingly seen as means for helping communities achieve social, economic, cultural and political goals.
Independent and community publications provide news and views that are often framed out of the corporate media.
It is facilitated in large part by the advent of digital new media, but can also be in the form of radio, microradio, print, PEG access, satellite and DIY publications.
Public access television became equated tieh the American commitment to free speech-a principle that is confronted every day throught the use of access television by local communities and individuals. Some authors choose to distinguish between "access" and "community media," with the latter being locally produced and more coordinated (p. 48, Rennie).
Community Media lives without regulation, it lives where and when it wants for whom it wants on whatever scale of operation it wants - whether by radio, internet, localised video distribution and television transmissions (whatever form of technology that may be engaged).
Chris Haydon, Director, Community TV Trust; from southwark.tv, Southwark TV website, London, UK

The Role of Policy
Although there is always a danger, policy analysis is very much needed in community media studies as it gets away from notions of communtiy media as something resistant to government and the economy. Coommunity broadcasting is dependent upon and intersects with both, as any investigation into governments' various attempts to accommodate the sector within broadcasting policy clearly shows (p. 8, Rennie).
Communitarianism is a political theory that investigates the limits of liberalism by exploring the value of communities and how community benefits may be enhanced. It has also been influential in a new type of politics that has emerged in recent years which has proved important in policy development around community media (p. 25, Rennie).
Civil society is separate from the state, but in many respects it requires a relationship with the state in order to exist. For community radio and television, the relationship is made clear by the legislative frameworks and policy decisions that define how this somewhat dispersed and varied activity will be implemented (p. 37, Rennie).
Current FCC rules and legislation have pronounced implications for community media in the United States. The implications can potentially hinder community participation in the modalities of cable access TV and the use of the Internet both via Net Neutrality as well as the redlining of neighborhoods within a particular community as local municipal rights are weakened and state and national policy is strengthened. This presents the opportunity for innovative and creative ways to use community media to affect policy decisions (Steve Terranova).

Examples of Community Media
Bolivian MIners' Radio (early example of the community media and its democratic potential)

Outline

This is what I came up with for an outline . As you can see it is close to what Jason suggested. We can use it as a guide to start creating a rough draft
for the ultimate Wikipedia entry and, of course, add/omit as you see fit.

-What is Community Media?
-definition
-key characteristics
-non-profit
-local news and info
-democracy and participation
-geographic scope
-civil society
-potential
-empowering tool and resource
-policy implications
-Historical Context
-impetus
-early examples
-USA
-Canada
-Europe
-Other
-Bolivian Miners' Radio of 1940s
-Modes of Community Media
-Television
-PEG Access
-Satellite programs
-Radio
-low-power and microradio
-Print
-Do-It-Yourself publications
-newsletters, leaflets, etc
-New Digital Media
-video
-podcasting
-websites
-blogs
-Links

Rough Draft

Historical Context
The nascent impetus for community media analysis stemmed from the efforts to "democratize" the media (Rennie, 2006, p. 17). The corporate controlled media and its adjacent interests were as much of an issue in the late 60s and 70s as they are today. The actual realization of community media outlets was hindered by clashes with both private and governmental sectors. The potential empowerment in the hands of local citizens and the possibilities to affect change became embedded in the social fabric and has been fought for ever since. Rennie (2006) describes how the birth of community television and radio in the United States made the concept of community media synonymous with the principle of free speech (p. 48). It is important to frame the historical development of community media around public access television and community radio (although print was certainly a widespread means of community communication) in the United States and Canada. Radio, in fact, has a long and significant history especially in the United States. Community radio, however, has had to strategize differently than cable access television since radio spectrum is licensed at the federal level by the FCC rather than through municipal franchise agreements.
The first cable access station in the United States that qualifies as an example of community media was set up in 1968 in Dale City, Virginia. It was managed by the city's Junior Chamber of Commerce and ran programming for two years without advertising only to close due to lack of financing, equipment, and infrastructure (Olson, 2000, p.5). Another early example of community media is found in the counter-culture video collectives of the 1960s and 1970s.
Groups such as Videofreex, Video Free America, and Global Village sought to use new technologies to the benefit of community interests. In addition, the Raindance Corporation founded by Michael Shamberg, Paul Ryan, and others became known as "guerrilla television." The premise of guerrilla television was to non-violently blaze a new trail for the creation of media as an alternative to broadcast television. This initial activity was made possible by Sony's introduction of the video Porta-Pak (Olson, 2000, p. 6).
In New York City in 1970 two cable companies agreed to franchises in the borough of Manhattan. The two public access channels were soon cablecasting 200 hours of programming per week to a potential audience of 80,000 subscribers.
Canada also has a central role in the development of community media and is by many considered the birthplace of community broadcasting (Rennie, 2006, p. 48). In the 1960s, the National Film Board of Canada set up a project called Challenge for Change which was a series of documentary films addressing socio-economic issues. Once again Sony's Porta-Pak proved revolutionary in Canada as well. In 1968, filmmakers Bonny Klein and Dorothy He`naut persuaded Challenge for Change to take on more local community issues. During the same year they trained members of the St. Jacques Citizens' Committee in video production. The committee went into the Montreal slums and captured interview footage with poor people and then presented the video in public meetings for discussion (Olson, 2000, p. 4)
Community radio also has a pivotal role historically as a community media outlet. Its history dates back to amateur radio organizations that formed in 1906 (Rennie, 2006, p. 62). From a historical perspective, the seminal example of community radio is Lewis Hill's Pacifica Radio. KPFA in Berkeley, California began broadcasting in 1949 after acquiring an FCC license for FM spectrum. This first Pacifica station was funded through listener support and philanthropic foundations. Pacifica's mandate, that Hill expressed as "to engage in any activity that shall contribute to the lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds, and colors," has served to frame the community media movement through its historical and technological development (Rennie, 2006 p. 64).
The historical context of community media which focuses on cable access television and community radio in the United States and Canada also extends to other models all over the world. England, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, just to name a few, all have particular models community media platforms. The context for the development of community media in Europe, however, is different than North America. Kleinsteuber and Sonnenberg (1990) point out that community television and radio in Europe arose "from criticism of a monopolistic public service system that was considered out of touch (as cited in Rennie, 2006, p. 78). The two main themes that were the driving force of community media in Europe were the breakdown and decentralization of the this monopoly structure and the threat of amateur media to the public service monolith. The experimental period of community media expression in Europe began in the 1970s after North American cable access was underway. It was therefore seen as a model but also understood that the media environments were structurally different (Rennie, 2006, p. 82).
A powerful community media example external to both North America and Europe is the Bolivian Miners' Radio of the 1940s. The station was established by the local miner's union and became an important tool for communication, resistance, and educational and cultural expression (Rennie, 2006, p. 17).
People are constantly making community media if one broadens the conceptualization of the term. Community media is particularly evident when individuals face circumstances that test the human capacity to bond and connect. For example, cannot the work songs of slaves in the cotton plantations of the pre-Civil War United States be considered a form of community media? Can we consider the 1930s anarchist print publications of Jewish immigrants in the Lower East Side of New York City a vibrant form of community media? The print 'zines of G.I.s resisting the Vietnam War are clearly an example of a community creating media and expressing viewpoints. The organizational structures are different but the intent to get an idea out is exactly the same in all cases. Regardless of the issue and politics, citizens want to have an arena to express their ideas to others. This is the essence of a democratic society and the basis for the existence of community media in all its current forms.
What is community media?
Community media is described by Rennie (2006), in a broad sense, as "community communication (p. 7)." Fundamentally, it is elusive to define the term in an absolute manner because it can take so many forms, be applied by so many different groups of people, and be directed at such a wide range of issues. The premise, however, that community media is a facilitative tool for discussion and engagement of the ordinary citizenry has some inherent implications. A major implication is that community media is for the most part independent of the market-driven commercial and mainstream media outlets. This, in turn, allows for different models of community media to offer either a wide open editorial policy or a more fine-tuned approach that is still loyal to the encouragement of community participation. The key characteristics of community media convey a more clear understanding of its definition as well as its depth and dimension in terms of how it takes shape in the civic landscape.
Key Characteristics
As a concrete alternative to mass mediated forms of communication, community media philosophically excludes itself from market influences. Different groups of community media makers may abide by this philosophy more strictly than others. Rennie (2006) points out that although there is a clear aversion to engage with commercial forces in the production of community media for obvious reasons, there may be times when some market interaction is desirable (p. 4). Essentially, this can serve as a means by which to avoid self-marginalization while still adhering to the principles of community interests and social objectives.
Community media is a means by which local news and information is disseminated. The consolidation of ownership of media outlets into fewer and fewer hands has translated into a neglect for local reporting of news that impacts communities. Community media can be a remedy to this by allowing citizens to inform themselves about the issues taking place around them.
There is an important distinction that should be clarified between community media as a whole and one of its many subsets; grassroots media. Community media can be a form a direct local level media; however, it also can be framed around a local issue pertaining to a community whose parameters can be national, international, and even global. Grassroots media on the other hand, as defined by Paul Riismandel of Mediageek, is focused more specifically on media making by and for the local community that it serves making the discussion more narrow and precise. As aleady mentioned there are a variety of subsets of community media that all contain the main theme of access and participation but may have different social, political, and organizational strategies. Some of these subsets include alternative media, radical media, democratic media, participatory media, development media, and citizens' media. Citizens' media, in particular, has some interesting characteristics. It is essentially a reframing of community media by Clemencia Rodriguez that focuses on small scale media projects that look to bring different visions and perspectives to the "codes" that are so easily embedded in the social psyche (Rennie, 2006, p. 23) . All of these variations and different focuses allude to another key characteristic of community media in its broader perspective; geographic scope (http://www.mediageek.org/rfc/media.html).
The geographic scope of community media can be thought of in a variety of ways. The fundamental premise of community media outlets is to engage those groups that are categorically excluded and marginalized from the media making process. This, of course, is not dependent on geographical proximity per se. Community, as a concept, can be extremely local or broadly global. The essence of community is the existence of a commonality that unites people; therefore, we can also structure community around language, shared interests, culture, religion, social issues, sexual orientation, etc. in which case the geographical parameters can be local, national, global or any combination of the three.
According to Media South Asia, all media, from a strict interpretation, can be argued as being community media because it addresses a particular community at the exclusion of another (http://www.mediasouthasia.org). What sets community media apart from the more commercial media outlets is the democratic and participatory principles that it adheres to as an organizational framework.
Arguably, democracy and participation are the core of community media making. Community media outlets can be owned and controlled by the local community they serve which in turn fosters participation, creativity, and diversity. With so many affordable and relatively easy to use digital media tools at the disposal of the average citizen, community media can be an important means of acquiring tangible skills which essentially is an empowering component.
Ownership and control from a democratic perspective are more in line with community media if they are at the local and independent level. However, to define community media strictly in these terms would be to exclude it needlessly from other potential forums. The fact that in the vast majority of instances community media finds its expression in local, DIY, and independent outlets is a commentary on the lack of democratic participation in the more mainstream media sources that are completely out of the sphere of the average citizen.
It is because of the lack of accessibility and participation in the commercially mediated landscape that community media is a potential countervailing force which can serve the needs of various groups along a wide assortment of issues. Democracy implies the intention to rule in the interests of the people for the common good (Rennie, 2006, p. 6). As a communication platform crucial for the dissemination of social and political information, the media in a truly functioning democratic society should not veer from this fundamental tenet. This poses the question of whether or not media democracy and participation are prerequisites to a civil society. The final key characteristic of community media addresses this important aspect.
Community media in all its various forms is inseparably linked to the enhancement of a civil society and civic participation. The International Association of Media and Communication Research states that community media "originates, circulates, and resonates from the sphere of civil society (as cited in Rennie, 2006, p 4)." Rennie (2006) continues to elaborate on how, as media created by civil society, there is an implied component of civic engagement in the production of community media (p. 4).
The democratic and participatory nature of community media allows a pathway for the exploration of civic duty which is all but lost in so many sectors of social life. Rennie (2006) points out that "civil society requires communication platforms (p. 35)." Community media, then, can be viewed as a tool readily available for the expression of a collective civic voice.
Modes of Community Media
Community media is bound only by the limits of creativity and of course accessibility to resources and spectrum. Probably the first mode that is envisioned is content created for television. PEG Access centers are still a viable option that offer an arena for citizens to produce, for example, a documentary or local news program and disseminate it to the community. PEG Access centers are provided through local franchise agreements between local municipalities and cable (and more recently telco) companies. Although an accessible resource in terms of equipment, training, and spectrum, public access centers are under attack via efforts by the telco and cableco companies to set new standards in franchise negotiations.
Satellite television has a long history and the technology has advanced to a point where it provides a residential alternative to cable and broadcasting services. While the services are similar, satellite TV opens up another avenue for community media content and productions. In particular, Free Speech TV offers a variety of programming with direct and tangible community media possibilities.
Radio has a long history in allowing communities to rally around various issues and provide a democratic and participatory platform of news information. Like television, radio is also subject to licensing requirements and spectrum availability. Radio is the most widespread electronic communications device in the world and community radio is a practical and cost-effective means of reaching and connecting the world's poorest communities (Rennie, 2006, p. 4). While many low power and microradio stations comply with the rules and regulations, other vibrant and vital stations have operated illegally only to be shut down by the FCC eventually.
Low-power television (LPTV) which was created in 1982 to give spectrum space for local programing is in some instances a form of community media. LPTV stations also often simply supply retransmission signals from the major networks, but they are a potential community media outlet. The introduction of digitized technology has created obstacles for both LPTV as well microradio due to the loss of spectrum availabity during periods of conversion. It remains to be seen how the switch from analog to digital will play out regarding community media (Rennie, 2006, p. 69).
The mode of community media that bypasses legal obstacles is print media. No special licensing is required to produce fanzines, newsletters, leaflets, etc. In societies where press freedoms are more repressed, print mediums may face some distributive challenges, but, given their underground nature, DIY projects find ways to reach the particular community often at relatively large scales.
Similar to satellite technology, the advancement of the digital environment that puts media production hardware, software, and equipment in the hands of the amateur consumer facilitates a virtual world of community expression. Essentially, the Internet is a space for the digital propagation of the aforementioned modalities of community media. For example, groups, organizations, and individuals can create video, audio, and text and graphics based media, upload it to the Internet, network it, and ultimately spark discussion, interaction, and real-life activities. Some examples are vlogs, blogs, audio and video podcasts, websites, and video and audio streaming. Rennie (2006) points out that the intitial discourse around Internet technology emphasized the important potential for democracy and participation within global and real-time contexts. This "cyberdemocracy" was premised on the direct relationship between technology and the growth of civil society (p. 164). Clearly, in terms of community media, the implications were (and still are) exciting. The initial discourse, however, has been complicated by the market and commercial forces that threaten to alter the democratic and open virtual environment of the Internet into one targeted on consumption and profit. Obviously, this would change the strategies of community media on the Internet and make it even more vital as a countervailing influence.
The Role of Policy
Historically, communications policy has had direct consequences for community media. The future of the various modes of community media are largely dependent on the path that legislation takes. The main theme of community media in whatever form it is created is access and participation. Policy can be written in ways that are conducive to the strengthening of these democratic principles while also, conversely, be enacted as barriers to the enhancement of civic society as it pertains to media.
Rennie (2006) points out that community radio and television have consistently been in a binary position to the "dominant cultural policy objectives (p. 5)." For example, public access television in the United States has throughout its history been linked to policy. From its earliest form as community antenna television (CATV), the relationship between the FCC, the cable industry, the National Association of Broadcasters, and local municipalities and citizens can be likened to a roller coaster ride.
The FCC recognized the public interest implications of public access television and in 1969 ordered cable companies to transmit their own programming as well as begin experimenting with community access channels (Rennie, 2006, p. 52). A downside of public access developing with a focus on the local is the lack of a national vision in terms of policy which consequently left ambiguity around community media as a whole (Rennie, 2006, p. 52).
In 1972 the FCC issued a Report and Order that sought to guide the role of the cable industry towards the benefit of the public interest. In addition, the new cable rules gave the FCC regulatory powers, set up the franchise agreement negotiations to be worked out by local governments and cable companies, and also via national policy mandated the setting aside of up to three channels for PEG use (Rennie, 2006, p. 53). The Supreme Court reversed this legally in 1979 when suit was brought by the Midwest Video Corporation arguing that their editorial right was being infringed upon. At the congressional and municipal levels, however, access remained mandated (Rennie, 2006, p. 54). The Cable Television Consumer Protection Act of 1992 did indeed restore cable companies' editorial control as it pertains to indecent material. A clause in the act allows " cable television operators - who by law have no say in access programming decisions - to ban "indecent" or "obscene" material, or " material soliciting or promoting unlawful conduct." Many access providers fear that cable operators - who have often considered access a thorn in their side - could use this clause to meddle with and possibly even shut down access centers. There has been little publicized evidence of what First Amendment freedoms are presently at risk (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-15627401.html).
From these examples it is clear that policy has a great influence on community media. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, the beaten back proposals of the Chairperson Powell version of the FCC in 2003, and the recent legislation in the House of Representatives that succumbed to a congressional mid-term power shift are other examples of the role policy can play in the community media reality.
Currently, the legislative battles are particularly consequential to the community sphere. Some of the key issues that are on the table today that have potentially dire consequences for community media include video franchise reform, community internet, net neutrality, and the continued trend of media consolidation. The shape that policy takes as well as the level of activism and grassroots organizing will be vital to the future of community media in the United States and the rest of the world. The digital era has enormous possibilities for civil society and democracy building. The activist issues are all interconnected and must be safeguarded in terms of access and participation so that the tools of community media are not usurped by the dominant social forces and rendered irrelevant.