Community radio in the West: a legacy of struggle for survival in a state and capitalist controlled media environment.
International Communication Gazette, 71
In this article the legacy of struggle by community radio in the West is analysed from a comparative perspective. More specifically, the focus of this article is on Western media policies towards community radio. It is argued that while many community radio discourses, theories and policies are oriented towards developing countries and emerging democracies, community radio stations in the West are often forced to operate in the margins. Case studies on the US, the UK and Belgium are presented. Some influence of distinct regulatory paradigms can be observed, but overall in each of these countries community radio stations have a legacy of struggle for their existence and survival. This exposes the need to account for the distinct nature of community radio in (Western) regulatory regimes. A common thread in the cases being presented is the difficulty involved in (local) community radio legitimating its existence on the FM-band alongside commercial and public broadcasters. Unlike these, community radio movements have little lobbying power and are usually positioned as rogue and unprofessional actors within the broadcasting community. From a democratic perspective emphasizing the importance of participation and civic culture, Western media policies urgently need to create an enabling environment for participatory community radio initiatives.
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