Sector Roundtable

Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable - March Meeting Update

Helen Henry, 22nd March 2017

The Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable met for two days earlier this month.

The Roundtable identifies and discusses sector needs, emerging issues, policy positions, funding requirements and joint advocacy initiatives. It is a key element in the CBAA’s strategy to provide effective sector leadership and advocacy, and provide an appropriate process for the sector to work on policy and development issues. Roundtable discussions act as an important consultation mechanism for the CBAA and impact on the development of policies and actions relevant to the sector. 

In its March meeting, discussions focused on future challenges and opportunities for the sector – particularly in an environment where technology and audience behaviour are changing, sponsors engagement is changing, and where government continues to reform the sector.

In this discussion, the Roundtable recognised that community broadcasting has a lot of strengths as a sector. Australians still spend two-thirds of their “audio time” listening to live radio – and we know our listeners are even more engaged. We are also unique in the way that our stations help building communities, maintain language and culture and providing essential services. 

As we continue these important roles, though, continued growth will be critical. Important elements of this will be our work with Government to keep evolving the legislative and policy frameworks that govern our sector to maintain a supportive environment for community broadcasting, building capacity in the sector and looking at ways to grow and diversify our revenue sources.

In the meeting, the Roundtable also heard from the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF) regarding its draft strategic plan and the Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA) about the transition of community TV to online.

The Roundtable will meet again in August.

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The CBAA could not do the work it does to build stations’ capability and create a healthy community broadcasting environment without one essential ingredient - listening to the needs of Australian community radio stations.


The internet provides a means for non-professional media-makers to produce and publish their own video and audio content, as community television and radio have done for several decades. While the web seems to exemplify the principles of media access and diversity championed by the community media sector, it also raises challenges for broadcast community media participants and their online equivalents, not least being the co-opting of the term ‘community media’ by large commercial interests. A symposium held in Melbourne by Open Spectrum Australia (‘Quality/Control’, State Library of Victoria, Oct 2008) brought together people with a wide range of community media experience to discuss this and other issues, particularly the possibilities for greater cooperation between broadcast and online community media participants.

This paper draws on participant contributions at the symposium to explore the relationship between broadcast and online community media. Despite shared values, we identify different, and possibly incompatible, cultures within the two groups. We argue that this disjoint stems from two different systems of control or validation (licensing and networks), as well as producer-centered accounts of community media that are out of sync with the contemporary media environment. Instead, we propose that theory and practice begin to address issues of consumption in relation to community media, including identification, navigation and the notion of ethical choice.


As part of its review of its structure and governance, the CBF has now released a second discussion paper for feedback from the sector.