Issue 9 – October 2019



Journal of Community, Citizen’s and Third Sector Media and Communication

ISSN 1932-6161

Issue 9 (October) 2019



Digital disruption in the Australian community radio sector.

Heather Anderson, Charlotte Bedford & Juliet Fox

Community broadcasting is largely made up of ‘traditional’ and ‘legacy’ media platforms that have not substantially changed in Australia since their emergence in the 1970s. That is, they remain predominantly broadcast services via AM and FM frequencies. However, there has been a massive growth in digital media and communication technologies—much of which has been successfully integrated into community radio content delivery and promotion, to complement traditional modes of broadcasting. The Australian community broadcasting sector, dominated by radio, has often led the way in experimenting with innovative, digital technology that delivers time-shifted content to a mobile audience, although this has received little scholarly attention. The increasing reach, and cost, of digital-based content delivery does pose significant disruption to community broadcasting—both positive and negative.

Read more: PDF icon Introduction.pdf



Commodified communication: Digital compatibility challenges for community broadcasting

Juliet Fox 


This article asks the question: is digital logic compatible with the democratic aims of community broadcasting? The focus is on the Australian community broadcasting sector, and the purpose is to step back from the minutiae of creating and distributing community radio content to consider the logics, commodifying processes, and commercial consequences of digital disruption. To address this concern, I will first consider how digital platforms interplay with the logic of the market, facilitating an ever-expanding monetisation of communication. Secondly, I will reflect on the means of production and the shifting digital sands that increasingly place once publicly held communication modes and methods under corporate influence or control. Thirdly, I will look at the impact of the digital on the producer and the listener. The article presents a theoretical interrogation of how community radio is impacted by the growing spread of a digital logic under neoliberalism. The article extends Rodríguez, Ferron and Shamas’s (2014) alternative media research agenda by emphasising the need to account for historical context, anchor analysis in a political economy of communication framework, and acknowledge complexity within all communication processes. Finally, it calls on future research to critically engage with concerns around media democratisation and digital logics within the wider space of communication for social change.

Read more: PDF icon Commodified communication Digital compatibility challenges for community broadcasting.pdf


The digital disruption of news and current affairs in the community broadcasting sector: An Australian perspective.

Heather Anderson


Changes in digital innovation have directly affected community radio broadcasting in Australia, thanks to the rapid growth of digital technologies. There is no denying the impact of digital disruption on community radio stations more broadly, as well as on the ways community radio programs are now produced, and the choices made about programming; even if we limit our attention to the production of news and current affairs. This paper maps the increased opportunities that digital disruption brings for community radio broadcasting in Australia to produce and disseminate news and current affairs content. More to the point, it draws on publicly available data to outline current trends in accessing syndicated news and current affairs programming within the Australian community radio sector, and considers both the consequences and repercussions of these increased opportunities. With the peak body for Australian community broadcasting – the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia – about to launch its Enhanced National News Project, this paper is timely and, while perhaps raising as many questions as it gives answers, it aims to highlight potential avenues for future research in this area.

Read more: PDF icon Digital Disruption of News and Current Affairs.pdf


Rethinking the ‘community’ function of community radio online – an ageing punk perspective

Charlotte Bedford


The social, cultural and political significance of community media lies in its community development function (van Vuuren 2006), constructing and strengthening community identities through participation in the organisation, production and distribution of content (Meadows et al 2007). Traditionally, these have been primarily communal functions, based on the collective action of communities of interest or locality. However, as increasingly affordable and accessible digital technologies transform media production and distribution, radio making and listening practices are becoming more individualised and dispersed.

Developing over almost half a century, the Australian community broadcasting sector has always been a space of change, disruption and innovation. Currently, stations are redefining their services to reflect the changing ways in which radio is made, distributed and listened to in the digital age (Dubber 2014), developing online reach through website live stream, listen again, and social media platforms. Through autoethnographic reflections on the production of a small sub-metro weekly alternative music program over an eight-year period, this paper discusses the changing ways in which broadcasters are engaging with audiences and considers the implications for how we understand the ‘community’ function of community radio online.

Read more: PDF icon Rethinking the ‘community’ function of community radio online.pdf


Media participation by people with disability and the relevance of Australian community broadcasting in the digital era

Kim Stewart, Christina Spurgeon and Niki Edwards        


It is misguided to assume that social media platforms compensate people who live with disabilities from exclusion from social life; participation in broadcast media still eludes 20 per cent of Australians who live with disability. Barriers such as costs, technological inaccessibility and social attitudes mean that digital media can fail to deliver opportunities for self-representation. The Australian community broadcasting sector has a positive history of affording marginalised groups meaningful opportunities for media participation, including people with disability, but there is scope for more to be done. Indeed, this article proposes that community broadcasting increase its relevance in the digital era by continuing to critically interrogate and improve its accessibility to marginalised groups. This line of thinking is informed by recent research (Stewart, 2019) that aimed to ‘listen’ to people with disability who are already active in the sector, as well as other related initiatives that facilitate increased participation of people with disability in the sector; hence, an illustrative case study of recent projects at 4ZZZ is discussed.

Read more: PDF icon Media participation by people with disability and the relevance of Australian community broadcasting in the digital era.pdf