Montreal Radio Blog

Monday, May 24, 2010

Community TV and Radio in Canada

What exactly is community radio and television in Canada supposed to be all about?

Access to the airwaves is a big deal. If you believe that there ought to be room on the air for anyone who wants it, then you have to turn to community television and radio. I've posted about some of my experiences at a community radio station. There is always room for volunteers who want to get involved either on the air or behind the scenes. Even though there may be limitations and guidelines that you must adhere to, you will probably have far more creative freedom than you will ever get at a commercial radio station. You may be able to deal with subject matter that may not otherwise have an outlet available for broadcast. That is the case with a lot with multicultural programming.

Of course, it's not easy. When commercial radio struggles during hard economic times, you can only image that it isn't much easier for non-profit radio. Even though they may not have big staffs or salaries to pay out, running a radio station is very expensive. Advertising revenue is limited, so you may have to find some creative ways to raise money to keep things going. Having said all that, community radio seems to work very well, as long as community stations keep to their reason for being and the programming remains local.

What about community television? Even with what the Internet has become over the past decade, television remains the single most influential media source we have. Broadcasting transmits messages, events and entertainment to the masses.

There seems to be far less "community" involvement on television than there is on radio. Obviously, you want a certain amount of quality on the air, otherwise you may find yourself watching an old SCTV sketch... With cable companies now owning television stations, community TV sometimes becomes an outlet for cross-promotion, or for cable company / station employees to take to the airwaves. There were CRTC hearings held a few weeks ago to discuss the future of community television in Canada. It was also discussed on the May 1st edition of The Digital Life Show. It's a very interesting topic given the changing landscape of media and the relevance of old vs. new.

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