International Approaches to Funding Community & Campus Radio
Submitted to the Canadian Radio-television
and Telecommunications Commission
March 31, 2009
CONNECTUS Consulting Inc. (CONNECTUS) is pleased to present the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC, the Commission) with its Final Report on International Approaches to Funding Community & Campus Radio (the Study).
This Report provides a summary and analysis of the manner in which community and campus radio undertakings are both regulated and funded within the following 12 international jurisdictions:
In addition to the summary and analysis of approaches to funding community and campus radio in the jurisdictions noted above, our Report provides:
- Total number of community/campus radio stations in each jurisdiction, the number of those with a presence on the web and related regulatory frameworks;
- A discussion of whether and how international approaches can inform Canadian policies for community and campus radio;
- Recommendations for further research; and
- A Summary Grid of our findings.
Our Report includes three appendices. Appendix A presents a series of Internet links and other sources that were used as the basis for this Report. Appendix B reproduces the Community Radio Charter for Europe, which has been influential in the direction and development of community radio in countries of the European Union. Appendix C provides a brief biography of the Report's author.
Within the jurisdictions analyzed for this Report, community and campus radio have emerged over the past several decades - anywhere from the 1930s to the 1990s - from early forms of 'free radio', 'alternative radio', 'student radio', 'municipal radio' and other categories of radio broadcasting. Despite their very different origins, regulations, approaching to sustainability and other factors, the analysis reveals three common characteristics of community radio across these 12 countries.
First, despite a vast range of programming and focus, community and campus radio stations are almost always focused on local concerns, issues, news, information, music, arts, culture, politics and other elements of local importance - and in a manner that is much more micro-oriented - or hyper-local - than conventional commercial or public radio.
Second, community and campus radio stations - irrespective of financial support received from government, audiences, donations, advertising or other means - are almost always dependent on volunteers, i.e. the unpaid labour and expertise of local residents who are committed to their local community or campus station. This commitment is demonstrated in the hundreds of thousands of voluntary hours that represent the global core of community media development and sustainability.
Finally - and largely as a result of its hyper-local, volunteer-driven nature - community and campus radio usually plays an important role within the national broadcasting systems of the countries analyzed, because these are the very elements of those systems that both encourage and enable citizen access to the airwaves that has often come with considerable struggle. The magnitude of this role will vary from country to country, but the fact that a number of countries have developed a structural approach to the funding of community and campus radio identifies the stature that community-based broadcasting has achieved.
Community radio holds a place of special prominence within the Australian broadcasting system, in terms of its scope, its place in the local broadcasting system and its reach into the domestic population.
As of 2007 (the last year for which reliable data is available) there were 358 permanently licensed community radio stations - including 80 remote indigenous stations - in Australia. There were also an additional 44 community radio stations operating under a temporary licence.
Interestingly, virtually all community stations (with the exception of remote indigenous stations) broadcast 24/7, i.e. 168 hours per week. Community radio grows at a rate of about 5 to 10 percent annually, and domestic research suggests that community radio is increasing as the sole source of local content in a number of markets.
To this end, community radio stations broadcast an average of 131 hours per week of local content (78 percent of total content), while commercial stations must broadcast just three hours per day.
Community radio stations in Australia are staffed by a largely unpaid workforce that includes 20,000 volunteers, together with a paid workforce of about 850. The reach of Australian community radio is massive, with approximately 45 percent of the Australian population tuning to community radio every month.
Less reliable data is available concerning the online presence of community radio, but it appears no less significant than its over the air presence. For example, of 250 community radio members of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, all but three are broadcasting their service online.
By comparison, campus radio in Australia is less prominent. There are just five licensed campus radio stations across the country, all which broadcast via analog signal and online. However, this seeming void is filled by the Student Youth Network (SYN), a multimedia, multiplatform youth-oriented service that developed from a merger of two campus radio services in an effort to secure a community radio licence in 2002.
SYN is recognized as one of the largest youth media projects in the world; SYN-FM reaches over 125,000 people aged 12 to 25 each week, and its radio, television and web presence is driven by over 1,500 volunteers.
There are also a number of youth-oriented community radio stations that deliver spoken word and music content specifically tailored for audiences in the 12 to 25 demographic. This focus on youth programming, education and training may also be reflected by the fact that 90 percent of community radio stations report having volunteers under the age of 26 (an average of 17 under-26 volunteers per station).
Australia - Regulatory Framework
Community and campus radio in Australia fall under the regulatory authority of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which can grant five-year licences for eligible applications. Community radio in Australia is licensed specifically on the principles of access, participation, volunteerism, diversity, independence and localism.
Virtually all community and campus radio stations provide some form of training for staff and volunteers - once again, a significant part of the community broadcasting mandate.
Licensees must specifically identify the community of interest that they intend to serve; this focus is borne out by the fact that some 60 percent of community radio licensees serve niche communities of interest, including ethnic, indigenous, youth, seniors, people with print disabilities, religious, gay/lesbian/transgendered/ bisexual, arts/music and other groups. Licensees may apply to change the community of interest represented in the original licence application, but can only do so after 26 weeks of operation.
Licenses are also granted on the basis of the market to be served and the specific needs of that market; these are categorized as metropolitan, suburban, rural and regional. These markets are distinguished in the following way:
- Metropolitan: stations located in a State or Territory capital city and licensed to broadcast metropolitan-wide.
- Suburban: stations located in a State or Territory capital city and licensed to broadcast to a particular suburban (or sub-metropolitan) area.
- Regional: stations not located in a State or Territory capital city, but is in a centre with a relatively high level of service provision (i.e. access to health, education and other public services and a range of commercial outlets), or is within 100 kilometres of such a centre.
- Rural: stations located in a centre in a country area, which has a comparatively low level of service provision (i.e. access to health, education and other public services and a range of commercial outlets) and not within 100 kilometres of a centre which has a high level of service provision.
Given the focus on volunteers, community radio stations also serve as locations for education and training in the media arts.
All community and campus radio stations fall under the Australian Broadcasting Services Act of 1992, and must abide by set of self-regulating 'Codes of Practice' that include the promotion of community service and the airing of local Australian music content.
The ACMA also maintains the Community Broadcasting Group, comprised of two staff teams dedicated to the administration of community radio and television (licensing, renewal, compliance, enforcement, technical matters, etc.).
Australia- Approach to Funding
The approach to funding of community radio in Australia is highly structured and organized, but also quite diverse in terms of sourcing. And - unlike the situation with community radio in Canada - funding is not generally cited as an issue by Australian community radio stations.
Overall, five categories of funding comprise 73 percent of community radio revenues:
Sponsorships (essentially advertising dollars) 41 percent
Donations 11 percent
Grants from the Community Radio Foundation 9 percent
Subscription or membership fees 7 percent
Other Government grants 5 percent
Additional sources of funding include training fees (5 percent of total revenues) and fundraising (3 percent). The Australian Department of Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) - which provides funding for the Community Radio Foundation of Australia - also provides funding to remote indigenous community radio stations through Indigenous Broadcasting Program.
In terms of dollar volume, the 2007 'income' of community radio broadcasters was approximately $54M (Australian dollars). This would translate to just under $5M from the Community Radio Foundation and $2.7M from other government grants, largely divided between the federal and territorial governments.
Australia - The Community Broadcasting Foundation
The Community Broadcasting Foundation of Australia is 100 percent funded by two Departments of the Australian federal government: DBCDE and the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA). The latter provides additional funding for the Indigenous broadcasting program, which includes 80 community radio stations situated in largely remote areas of the country.
For 2008, the Community Broadcasting Foundation received $8.7M in funds for allocation to the community broadcasting sector. While about 50 percent is dedicated to core funding (e.g. grants), the remainder is allocated to projects stemming from government policy initiatives, such as CBOnline (see below), the National Community Broadcasting Training Fund, the Australian Music Radio Airplay Project, the Indigenous Remote Radio Placement Project and Digital Radio.
Similar to the situation in other jurisdictions, campus radio in Australia is largely funded through university student union grants (which are in turn created from student tuition fees), and from additional grants from their respective post-secondary institutions.
Australia - New Media Project
The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia has also launched an ambitious new media project known as CBOnline; the project is funded by DBCDE through the Community Broadcasting Association. It has four components:
- The Digital Delivery Network infrastructure project, enabling ease of access to satellite-delivered programming;
- The Satellite Equipment Reception Grants Program, for the purchase of equipment to access satellite program distribution networks;
- The Community Broadcasting Database, which to date focuses largely on the growth and status of community radio; and
- The CBOnline website, which provides online resources for community broadcasters and serves as an information conduit for the public.
The development of a small community and campus radio sector in Belgium is in part reflective of a country that has four distinct political territories: Dutch-speaking, German-speaking, French-speaking and, in the case of Brussels, bilingual (Dutch-French). Each political territory remains fairly autonomous in terms of administering such policy areas as education, social aid, family policy and media.
Although 'independent' or 'amateur' radio - i.e. community and campus radio stations - only emerged in Belgium in the 1990s (and as late as 2002 in North Belgium) when the public broadcasting monopoly was lifted, a number of these early efforts at alternative broadcasting were taken over by or integrated into commercial radio services as a way of extending commercial radio networks.
Thus the spread of large numbers of commercial radio stations (with some 330 in the territory of Flanders alone) and resulting media concentration over the past 15 years, especially within French-language Belgium, has resulted in a limited community radio sector: seven community radio stations and four university-based radio stations. Of the seven community radio stations, four are Dutch-language and three are French-language. The four university-based radio stations broadcast primarily in the French language. While national public broadcasting networks are available in the German language there are no community- or university-based radio stations that broadcast in German.
The relatively limited presence of community and student radio in Belgium is paralleled by a limited presence for ethnic media as well; there are an additional nine ethnic radio stations that are also licensed as community/campus stations in Belgium.
In combination - between Dutch, French and ethnic minorities - there are 20 licensed community/campus radio stations in Belgium. All community radio sector stations broadcast via FM and online.
Belgium - Regulatory Framework
As noted above, community-based radio in Belgium is often referred to as 'independent radio' or 'amateur radio' since the break-up of the public radio monopoly is relatively recent, having occurred in the mid-1990s.
Given the multilingual nature of Belgian society and the resulting political make up of the country, Belgium has three autonomous regulatory agencies, each with a different framework for broadcasting undertakings: De Vlaamse Media Regulator (VRM) for the Flemish community (and Flemish community radio), Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel de Belgium (CSA) for the French community (and French community radio) and Medienrat for the German community.
Ethnic community stations that broadcast in a third language (or languages) fall under the regulatory authority of their territory of origin; all community and campus radio stations must abide by largely the same rules of content, spoken word/music balance and language of broadcast as private commercial stations.
Community and campus radio stations are generally licensed by their respective Flemish and French regulators as low power FM broadcast services, and must restrict their Effective Radiated Power (ERP) to 15 watts.
Belgium - Approach to Funding
It is not surprising that, given the limited development of community and campus radio in Belgium, there are also structural limitations to the sustainability of the sector. While specific figures are not available, the community radio sector in Belgium is largely supported by (i) the time, skills and commitment of volunteers and (ii) donations and/or memberships as the main source of revenue.
As an example of this, Radio Centraal in Antwerp is one of the larger community radio stations in Belgium. It operates on the basis of at least 150 volunteers, and is completely dependent on donations and membership fees. Although commercial advertising on community radio is not restricted per se in Belgium, most advertising revenue appears to flow to commercial radio services.
There is a single fund that provides project-specific funding for French-language media in Belgium, including French-language community radio: Le Fonds d'Aide à la création Radiophonique (FACR), which operates within la Ministère de la Communauté francaise. The FACR is in turn funded by a percentage of advertising revenues from both public and commercial radio broadcasters.
Funding available for distribution from FACR varies from year to year, but in 2006, FACR supported 26 projects specific to French-language community radio (primarily in the area of non-fiction programming production), providing approximately €193K in total funding.
As of 2008, there are approximately 600 licensed community (or 'associative') radio stations in France, comprised of local, community-based, cultural and student stations. Largely funded by government, community radio in France has evolved from an explosion of unlicensed radio stations - some 2,000 - that took place in the 1970's and 1980's.
While a number of these unlicensed or 'pirate' stations were closed by the French government, a number of existing stations were granted licences with the introduction of a regulatory regime in 1985.
France - Regulatory Framework
Community radio stations in France are regulated with all other areas of broadcasting by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) as 'Category A' non-commercial radio undertakings. This category also includes cultural or student radio services; other licensing categories fall into commercial and/or public radio services.
While identified as 'non-commercial' for purposes of regulation, community radio can actually air limited amounts of advertising, and advertising revenues must not comprise any more than 20 percent of total station revenues from all sources - which enables eligibility for the central federal government funding program, FSER (Fonds de soutien à l'expression radiophonique).
Licence terms for community radio stations typically run for a five-year period, and stations must abide by all regulations for domestic content, advertising, hours of broadcast, and diversity of programming. By regulation, all community and student radio stations must file annual reports with the CSA - including audited financial statements. 
France - Approach to Funding
As noted above, funding for community radio and student radio in France is largely government-based, sourced through the federal Fonds de soutien à l'expression radiophonique (FSER), a branch of France's federal Ministry of Cultural and Communication. The FSER is in turn funded by tax dollars levied on the ad revenue of French commercial broadcasting undertaking.
Grants from FSER take place once per year, through four funding programs:
- Grants for new stations (maximum of €16K or $27K Cdn. For 2007), typically used toward start-up costs and initial equipment investments; €365 in 2007 for 23 newly licensed stations;
- An equipment grant for the purchase of new equipment or upgrading of older equipment (maximum of 50 percent of the price, up to €18K or $30K Cdn.) €390K in 2007 for 88 stations;
- Operational subsidies; no maximum indicated, but FSER granted 588 requests totaling €20.7M for 2007;
- Special project funding, with once again no maximum indicated; focus of support is on station activities in training of paid employees; activities involving youth; exchanges with other local licensed ratio; and local cultural integration. In 2007, FSER provided 543 grants totaling €544K.
While stations can receive multiple grants, there is only one grant period each year (i.e. applications must be submitted by April 15). Two criteria guide the determination of funding on a station by station basis: (i) the ability of the station to secure funding from other sources, especially donations from the local community - which is viewed favourably by FSER, and (ii) programming quality together with social and cultural links to the local area.
As noted above, each station must file an annual (sometimes referenced as a 'progress') report with fully disclosed financials. Reports - and FSER grant evaluations - focus on the above noted criteria together with the demonstrated dedication of the station to integrating with the local community.
Somewhat surprisingly - given the leadership of Germany in the development of communications technology and wireless platforms - community radio in this country is far from developed, especially when compared with other European nations. In fact, while there are a number of different definitions of 'community radio' in Germany, there is no direct translation of the term in the German language.
Historically, radio has generally fallen under the authority of government, with little or no access to radio broadcasting licences on the part of citizens. Commercial radio itself was not introduced in Germany until 1984 - and was immediately mired in a highly complex regulatory system under the supervision of 15 state governments (Lander).
As the German radio broadcasting system evolved through the 1980's and 1990's, more non-public radio stations received licences from individual states; community radio fall under the broad category of 'citizen media', which combines 'open channels' in radio and television, non-commercial local radio, campus radio and educational radio and television.
As a consequence of state regulation, and the control of states by very different political parties, community radio has evolved in ways that are unique to those individual states: the conservative south favours 'classic community radio', the Green Party in Lower Saxony prefers completely non-commercial radio and Social Democrats support commercial radio that offers access or 'non-commercial' programming slots. Moreover, changes in Lander government typically bring about changes to the type of community radio that is supported in a given territory of the country.
Other barriers to the development of community radio are also in evidence, including:
- The Deutsche Telekom monopoly over transmission facilities; costs for leasing transmitter space tend to be very high.
- Difficulties in acquiring funding (from any source) and audiences, which gravitate toward nationally-based public radio.
- A shift to Internet radio, which enables radio programming opportunities on the part of individual citizens.
However, while Internet radio as a basis for community-based broadcasting has proven popular in Germany, an increase in copyright fees from €25 to €350 per month will likely diminish the use of this platform.
Given these and other barriers to community radio licensing, alternative or citizen-based media in Germany has focused on newspapers instead - which also tend to attract the local advertising that might otherwise flow to community radio outlets.
The highly decentralized, fragmented and shifting nature of state-controlled community radio licensing makes it very difficult to determine exactly how many stations are in operation in a given point in time. It is generally acknowledged citizen media outlets, including open channel television and educational television, totaled about 140 in 2005. Of this number, there are likely 80 to 110 licensed community radio stations in operation at the present time.
(A count of community radio stations in Germany derived from an Internet-based listing totaled 83, all of which broadcast via FM and online. However, it should be noted that this total may not represent - or may over-represent - the actual number of community radio stations in the country. That is, the listing may not be comprehensive or may include stations no longer in operation.)
This figure (of 80 to 110 total outlets) would also include the very few campus or university radio stations in operation in Germany at the present time. The same issues that have inhibited the development of community radio in Germany have also proven problematic for campus radio.
(A count of campus radio stations in Germany derived from an Internet-based listing totaled 22, all of which broadcast via FM and online. Again, the accuracy of this figure should be approached with caution, although campus radio licensing appears more permanent than the more volatile community radio situation.)
Germany - Regulatory Framework
As noted above, German radio and television - including community and campus radio - is regulated by 15 state media authorities (Landesmedienanstalten or LMA), all of which are responsible for licensing, renewals and monitoring content requirements for all broadcast media outlets in a given state. LMAs are also responsible for ensuring content diversity, pluralism of opinions and enforcing regulations that protect children.
Funding of state media authorities (and public broadcasters) does not come from government, but instead from licensing fees paid by households (about €200 annually for radio and television, and €66 per year if radio and television are only accessed via a PC or mobile device).
Germany - Approach to Funding
With respect to the operations of community and campus radio stations in Germany, they are run by volunteers and funded through (i) contributions from state-based regulators via the collection of licence fees, (ii) donations and personal contributions of station staff and (iii) limited advertising revenues (no more than 20 percent of total station revenues).
The bulk of funding for community radio stations comes via the pass through of licence fees collected by state regulators. There is a general consensus in the research literature that funding is generally limited and varies between states. The research undertaken for this Report did not locate any further information on funding of community radio in Germany.
There are presently 15 community radio stations licensed in Ireland; licence renewals and a proceeding to examine new licence applications will begin in 2010.
There are also five 'community of interest' radio station licensees in Ireland; these include three student radio stations, one Christian community station and one community station that broadcasts in the Irish language.
All but one of the 20 community/community of interest station broadcast online as well as via analog signal.
Ireland - Regulatory Framework
Ireland considers community radio broadcasting to be a distinct, 'third strand' of radio service, along with licensed commercial and public radio services. All community radio stations are licensed, typically for five-year terms, as non-profit undertakings under the Radio and Television Act of 1988 and the Broadcasting Act of 1991.
The Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) uses the objectives set out in the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) Community Radio Charter for Europe as a baseline set of criteria for assessing community radio applications, and is included in all contracts with community radio stations.
Ireland - Approach to Funding
As noted by the BCI, 'funding is an ongoing challenge for licensed groups and the communities they serve'.
Once again adopting the principles of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, and adapting the Ofcom regulatory approach to funding, no more than 50 percent of funding for a community radio station can accrue from any one source. This approach essentially ensures that (i) a diversity of funding sources will be used and (ii) this in turn will engage the participation of the community itself - viewed as a fundamental principle of community broadcasting activity.
Given this, community radio stations in Ireland have adopted a number of diverse funding sources, including government grants, membership fees, donations, fundraising and commercial advertising.
On the latter point, the BCI has initiated restrictions on the amount of advertising that can be carried by a community radio station: while commercial advertising revenue can comprise up to 50 percent of a station's funding, a maximum of six minutes of ads can be broadcast per hour. In addition, advertising is restricted to work opportunities, events, businesses and/or services 'in the immediate area' of the station.
Two types of government-based grants are also available to community radio stations. The BCI Sound & Vision grants supporting specific programming projects in Irish culture/heritage provided a total €2.8M in radio funding in 2007, or an average of €13,500 for approximately 200 radio programs (largely documentaries). Of the €2.8M granted, about 40 percent (or €1.1M) was made available to community radio programs; grants are generally awarded in the 65-95 percent range of the total eligible costs of the production budget for the programme.
The Programme of Grants for Community and Voluntary Organizations (from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs) can provide grants of €9K to €40K for the purchase of equipment.
As is the case in most other jurisdictions, the role of volunteers is essential to the on-going sustainability of community radio in Ireland. In fact, voluntary commitment is viewed by the BCI as a 'key indicator of the success' of individual stations.
In addition, the training and education of volunteers is viewed as the number one priority for community radio in Ireland - a view that is supported by the BCI's own Training and Development Policy for Community Radio.
Student radio in Ireland is operated by volunteers, and is almost exclusively funded by student fees (i.e. a portion of student tuition is directed toward student radio stations).
The broadcasting system in The Netherlands has evolved in a highly diverse fashion, essentially constructed to reflect the diversity of that society. For example, there are seven large, national public broadcasting organizations that reflect religious, cultural and ethnic groups in The Netherlands. Public policy focused on decentralization and localization of broadcast media - mandating the reflection of local diversity in broadcast programming - has resulted in the emergence of 297 licensed community radio broadcasters in the country.
Given the evolution of community-based broadcasting in The Netherlands over the past 20 years, community radio has become structurally integrated into public policy, legislation and regulation and is consequently funded from the country's 'national media budget'; so to is the Organization of Local Broadcasting in The Netherlands (or OLON).
While precise figures for web/online presence of community radio in The Netherlands are not available, a preliminary scan indicates that approximately 280 community stations broadcast online as well as over the air.
There is no distinct category of campus or student radio in The Netherlands; however, there are approximately 60 to 70 'student-run' stations in the country, although some of these stations may actually be licensed as community radio undertakings.
The Netherlands - Regulatory Framework
In The Netherlands, the Commission for Media (also known as the Dutch Media Authority) administers the Dutch Media Law, overseeing the licensing, compliance and licence renewal of all broadcasters, including community-based radio undertakings. The Commission also administers and enforces the Dutch Media Decree, which essentially sets out the regulatory framework for radio and television broadcasting, including community radio.
Licences for community radio - referred to in the Dutch regulatory framework as 'local radio' - are generally issued for five-year terms. Similar to the licensing regime for public broadcasters in The Netherlands, community radio stations are licensed in order to provide music and spoken word programming that will be reflective of the social, cultural, religious and spiritual diversity of the country - i.e. 'make a contribution to the community served'.
The Netherlands - Approach to Funding
Funding for community radio in The Netherlands is largely sourced through the Commission for Media, from a €1 (one euro) annual fee collected from each household in the country; this fee replaced the annual household licence fee collected by local governments from every household with a radio or television receiver. Funds collected via the annual household fee are directed exclusively to community radio stations.
Annual budgets for community radio in the Netherlands average about $60K (Cdn.), but can range from as low as $5K in smaller villages to as high as $2M in larger markets. The Commission for Media provided just under €8M (or about $11M Cdn.) for community radio operational costs in 2007.
The national organization for community radio, OLON, is also funded by the Dutch federal government out of its annual media budget; about 50 percent of OLON's budget comes from the Media Commission, while the remaining 50 percent is raised through membership fees and donations.
While there are no restrictions on community radio access to other sources of funding, such as commercial advertising, sponsorships, fundraising or donations, annual operational funding is seen as fostering sustainability in the sector. At the same time, competition for advertising dollars limits access by community radio, and it is viewed as untenable to operate a community station on the basis of advertising sales alone.
Time dedicated to advertising is limited to no more than 15 percent of the total broadcast day, and must not exceed 12 minutes per hour.
With respect to student radio, and as noted above, a number of student radio stations appear to be licensed as community radio undertakings, and are therefore eligible for Commission funding.
It should be noted that The Netherlands has also exported its community radio expertise - such as the provision of training - to developing nations in West Africa such as Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone. This initiative is funded by the public broadcaster Radio Netherlands Training Centre.
At the present time, there are 11 licensed 'community access radio stations' in New Zealand, including one dedicated reading service for persons with disabilities. There are also seven student radio stations, six of which are part of a student radio network known as bNet. bNet was formed to coordinate national advertising and share programming ideas among its six members.
All access radio stations and student radio stations in New Zealand broadcast their services through analog signal and online. All are non-profit undertakings.
New Zealand Regulatory Framework
Access radio stations in New Zealand are funded by the New Zealand Broadcasting Commission, known as NZ On Air. Under the 1989 Broadcasting Act, NZ On Air is mandated to provide broadcasting services for the interests of specific groups, including women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities. A government directive issued in 1989 noted that, as government policy, access radio should be made available to a 'broad range of non-profit community groups'.
Licensing is focused on services that can (i) serve markets larger than 50,000 people, (ii) serve the above noted groups and (iii) demonstrate local community support in terms of funding.
New Zealand Approach to Funding
NZ On Air (which is funded by the New Zealand federal government) provides a portion of annual operating costs to access radio stations; stations themselves must raise the balance of their funding requirements through advertising, fundraising, donations and other means.
NZ On Air further supports specific genres of programming presented by access radio stations, as well as programming aired by commercial radio broadcasters. Categories include New Zealand music programs, values-based radio programs and an English-language Maori issues program.
At the present time, NZ On Air provides approximately $1.6M (New Zealand dollars) to 11 access radio stations across the country; this represents anywhere from 80 percent to 54 percent of annual operational funding for individual stations (i.e. stations must make up the remaining funding needs).
Although specific figures are not reported, it is apparent that community access radio in New Zealand enjoys significant support, in terms of volunteer hours and donations, from local community residents. The Access Broadcasting Association of New Zealand notes that 'hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours' are required in order to maintain station operations.
Student radio in New Zealand is funded primarily by individual student unions at each post-secondary institution. Student radio stations are permitted by regulation to sell advertising - as noted above, bNet was formed to coordinate national advertising sales for a network of six student radio stations - but student union grants remain the central source of funding.
NZ On Air assists with the funding of a limited amount of music programming aired on the bNet student radio network.
Available evidence from individual student radio station websites suggests that student radio in New Zealand is operated exclusively by volunteers.
Similar to other Western European countries, community radio in Spain began as unlicensed or pirate radio, largely in response to tight government controls over access to the airwaves in the 1970's - leading to the proliferation of some 1,100 unlicensed local stations by 1990.
Tighter controls over licensing (essentially, permission from government to set up a community stations) at the regional and local levels, together with extremely limited broadcast spectrum, has reduced the number of unlicensed stations, and lead to the licensing of approximately 100 community radio stations in Spain, largely concentrated in the regions of Catalonia and Navarra (with 19 stations alone in the city of Madrid).
(There are also a large number of 'city hall' or municipal radio stations in Spain, approximately 700 across the country. Unlike community radio stations, municipal radio is fully integrated into regional regulatory frameworks; and while community radio stations operate in virtual isolation from one another, municipal radio stations run by local government have developed various cooperative networks for the sharing of programming and information resources.)
A review of approximately 25 community radio stations in Spain suggests that most, if not all, are broadcasting via FM and online.
Spain - Regulatory Framework
Under Spanish law, community radio is recognized as part of the 'cultural or non-profit' category of radio broadcasting; since it is in third position behind public radio and commercial radio, community radio (and community media more generally) is often referred to as 'the third sector' of broadcast media.
However, there is no single, centralized broadcasting authority in Spain. There is also no centralized point for media law; instead, the regulation of broadcasting resides in a number of legal instruments. Broadcast licences - which are really more like contracts - are granted to private companies and community organizations on the basis of a 'permission' or a 'concession'. In other words, government can enable the start up of a community station, and then close it just as quickly. Government oversight of community radio typically occurs at the municipal or regional level (for example, the Ministry of Culture and the Media in Catalonia).
As is the case with all but national public media, community radio in Spain is largely regulated at the local level, by regional or municipal governments; these governments are responsible for issuing permissions to broadcast, but actual programming content is largely unregulated. For example, the government of Madrid, the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia and the Audiovisual Council of Navarra are appointed by regional governments to oversee the use of broadcast spectrum and grant concessions (i.e. licences) for community radio, but do not have authority with respect to content, monitoring or other regulatory activity.
It should be noted that community radio in Spain rests on tenuous legal grounds; for example, the Regional Government of Madrid recently passed a new set of regulations that would have community radio removed from regulatory oversight, thereby opening up spectrum for commercial broadcasting undertakings. The decree was overturned by the High Court of Spain on appeal by Madrid's local community radio association. 
Regulation of community radio may become somewhat more stable in the near future; the Regional Government of Catalan has recently announced that it will 'recognize third sector media' by end of the current legislative session in November 2010, i.e. develop a licensing framework for community radio, attempt to release some additional FM frequencies for not-for-profit applications, and other measures.
Spain - Approach to Funding
Community radio in Spain has access to several sources of funding, including government grants, donations and advertising. Sources of government funding typically come from a pool of money made available to local organizations by local or regional councils; these councils also hire stations managers from time to time. Advertising is permitted without limits, but the amount of competition from other media, especially commercial radio, inhibits access to advertising revenues for community radio stations.
As is the case with many other jurisdictions, community radio stations in Spain rely almost exclusively on the skills and dedication of volunteers, and are in constant need of resources; some stations are able attract - and air - 'excessive amounts' of advertising. In the case of municipal or city hall radio stations, some have auctioned their service to commercial radio interests.
Community radio (närradio) was introduced in Sweden around 1980 by a newly elected Liberal government, as the central means of breaking the public service broadcaster monopoly. It was in effect intended to enable a broadcasting platform for civil society where there had been no previous access to the airwaves, and is still regarded as such. The major push for removing the monopoly of public radio came from churches and religious organizations, which were granted the bulk of licences in the early years. 
Community radio is well established within the Swedish broadcasting system, with some 1,000 licensed community-based stations now in operation. However, there are about 150 community radio stations operating out of a total of 290 municipalities in Sweden. The remainder is comprised of student/campus radio, a larger number of religious radio stations, other local association radio and stations broadcasting in other languages; these very localized, very small licensees may also share frequencies or simply broadcast in a very small locale for only a few hours per day.
Licences are typically held by local, non-profit groups, including student associations at post-secondary institutions. Virtually all Swedish community radio stations broadcast via analog signal and over the Internet.
Despite the broad presence of community radio in Sweden, audiences are fairly small, 3.4 percent of the Swedish population (compared with public radio at 50 percent and commercial radio at 34 percent). Smaller audiences may be due to the fact that many community radio stations in Sweden broadcast for only a few hours each day.
Sweden - Regulatory Framework
In Sweden, the Swedish Radio and TV Authority is the federal regulator for all broadcasting undertakings, including community radio. Reporting to the Ministry of Culture, the Media Authority is responsible for all licensing, establishing regulations and monitoring for all media per the Swedish Radio and Television Act. Licences issued to community radio stations are typically for three years in duration.
In terms of access to the broadcasting system, there is typically one FM frequency reserved for community radio in each local community, and more than one FM frequency for larger cities. As noted, not-for-profit associations, community radio associations, religious groups and student associations comprise the majority of licensees. However, there is no stipulation that community radio be operated as a not-for-profit undertaking, and a European umbrella group for community media has raised the concern that this potentially enables commercial enterprises (who can form an 'association') to acquire community radio licences.
Sweden - Approach to Funding
A further concern about the state of community radio in Sweden resides in the way it is funded, which is considered to be structurally weak in comparison to funding models for community radio applied in other countries.
While commercial advertising is permitted on Swedish community radio, most Non-government Organizations (NGOs) who operate community radio stations acquire funding through other means: donations, the use of volunteers and their expertise and grants from local government. However, there is no structural integration of funding for Swedish community radio, e.g. through licence fees or annual contributions from the federal government or regulator, as is the case in other European states.
In addition - echoing the case of community radio in most other jurisdictions examined for this study - commercial advertising is very difficult for community radio to acquire, given (i) very small listening audiences and (ii) competition from other local commercial radio and other local media.
As is the case in other jurisdictions, Swedish households owning television and radio receivers pay an annual licence fee to the Swedish government each year. It has been suggested by Sweden's leading community radio associations that a portion of this licence fee - i.e. 1 to 2 percent - be funneled to community radio each year.
The development of a funding model that will foster sustainability in the community radio sector is viewed as very important in Sweden. There is a sense within the sector itself, however, that community radio will see its most significant expansion through the Internet, and in particular in providing access to community radio stations through mobile platforms.
Community radio is somewhat less developed as part of the Swiss broadcasting system; there are just eight licensed community radio stations in the country. They are typically referred to as 'complementary' stations, in that they are viewed as complementing the public (and fairly restricted private) service that forms the core of the domestic broadcasting system.
Student radio is also quite limited, at least on conventional analog radio. Two campus stations, one in Zurich and one in Lausanne, have low power frequencies and also distribute their signal online; at least three other student radio stations broadcast via the Internet only.
While all licensed community radio stations in Switzerland broadcast via FM and the Internet, other radio services are available through alternate platforms that include the Internet, cable, satellite or digital broadcasting platforms such as DAB or DVB-T. The services do not require a licence, but operators must notify the federal regulator (Office for Communications, or OFCOM).
Most of these alternate services are music-based, although the expansion of community-based radio through these platforms is a possible option. At the present time, the Swiss regulator has an invitation to tender applications for 16 new DAB radio licences (eight in French and eight in German, although there is no indication that any licences are to be granted to community, not for profit radio stations).
Switzerland - Regulatory Framework
All Swiss radio and television broadcasting is regulated by the Federal Office for Communications (also called OFCOM), which in turn resides as part of the federal Department of Environment, Energy, Transport and Communications. However, broadcasting licences are only required if a radio or television broadcaster received licence fee revenues; otherwise, they may begin transmission of service once they have notified OFCOM.
Consumers in Switzerland pay a monthly 'reception fee' to the Swiss government; the rate depends on the status of one's residency, but most households pay a private user pays €104 EUR license fee for radio reception and another €173 EUR for TV reception. License fees are used to fund all public radio programming and a portion of public television programming, and commercial broadcasters receive a portion of reception fees as well.
The Federal Radio and Television Law (revised in 2007) requires that all electronic media 'contribute to the unrestricted formation of opinion, take into account the diversity of the country and its inhabitants', and provide the supply of quality programming to the various regions - and languages - of Switzerland.
Switzerland - Approach to Funding
Community radio stations in Switzerland are funded through the distribution of a portion of licence fees collected from private households. As noted above, most funds collected are used to fund public radio and television networks; while licence fees also account for most of the funding requirements for community radio and enable a certain level of sustainability, licensees can also accumulate revenue through commercial advertising and donations.
While the precise amount of licence fees directed to community radio were not located, it is reasonable to presume that any amount would be extremely small given the limited number of community stations operating in the country.
As in other jurisdictions, volunteers comprise an important part of the skills and talent that maintain and continue to develop the service.
Community radio in the U.K. (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland) is a relatively recent phenomenon, emerging from an earlier licensing format known as 'access radio'. Its development as an officially regulated element of the U.K. broadcasting system was due - in part - to the sudden spike in 'pirate radio' or unlicensed radio services emanating from ethnic minority groups in the 1970s.
At the present time, and as a result of two licensing rounds, there are 191 licensed community radio stations in the U.K.; 131 are on-air, nine have returned their licenses and the remainder are in prep-to-air stages. Virtually all community radio stations that are currently on-air maintain websites (many as community access portals) while most are either broadcasting online or have plans to do so in the near future.
The number of student (or campus-based) radio stations in the U.K. is somewhat in dispute. The U.K. Student Radio Association suggests there are 120 (a figure which may include high school stations), while Ofcom notes there are 'approximately 80'; about 50 student radio stations are members of the SRA. Of these 50 stations, eight have an online-only presence, two have no online presence, and the remaining 40 broadcast via low power FM or AM and simultaneously online.
U.K. Regulatory Framework
Regulations governing community radio require stations to be not-for-profit, and do not permit funding from any single source to exceed 50 percent of total funding. License applicants must indicate how their station will fulfill 'key commitments', including meeting the public good, community benefits, and opportunities for access and training from members of the community targeted for the service.
Of particular importance is the concept of 'social gain', i.e. the components of community benefit that the station will provide. The achievement of social gain - which must be verified in a station's annual report - should include:
- How the target, underserved community is being served by the station
- The facilitation of discussion and expression of opinion
- Education and training for members of the community
- A better understanding of the community
Social gain might also include such measures as:
- Promoting the awareness of services from local authorities, e.g. local city or town councils
- Identifying and promoting employment opportunities
- Promoting social inclusion
- Supporting local community events
A significant component of community radio regulations holds stations accountable for meeting their key commitments and social gain objectives; the key measure of accountability is the filing of an annual report with Ofcom.
The principle of target markets is also an important element in the regulatory framework for community radio; most stations are restricted to a five-kilometre radius at an effective radiated power of 25 watts (50 watts for rural-based stations). To this end, some licensees focus their operations on much more niche communities of interest, such as youth, gay/lesbian, ethnic minority or religious interests.
It should be noted that community radio reaches a relatively small proportion of the U.K. population - about 15 percent. Ofcom plans another round of licensing at the community level, although the near-total absence of frequencies in London make that particular market difficult to serve in a more targeted, community sense.
Student radio stations operate under much more restrictive regulations, generally qualifying for Restrictive Service Licenses (or RSL) which enables them to broadcast for short periods on FM or longer periods on low power FM or AM. These restrictions have prompted student radio stations to focus on their online broadcasting services.
U.K. Approach to Funding
As noted above, no community radio station is permitted to raise more than 50 percent of operating costs from any single source, including on-air sponsorship and advertising. A diversified approach to funding appears to be an underlying objective in the U.K. approach to community radio funding.
Public sources include the Ofcom-administered Community Radio Fund, the U.K. Arts Council, and the Ministry of Defense (for stations targeting the military). Non-public sources of funding include advertising, sponsorships, target market donations (e.g. from religious or ethnic groups), individual donations and membership drives. Two 'parent companies' of community radio stations have received substantial (£300K) grants from the National Lottery, although radio is only one part of recipient activities.
The Community Radio Fund distributes up to £500k annually community radio stations for purposes of core operational funding; grants typically average £15K and stations rarely apply two years in a row. In other words, the Fund is designed to assist stations at start-up or periodically - but discourages dependency so that other funding can be sourced.
Thus the U.K. funding model for community radio is highly diversified and - similar to the Canadian model for funding - encourages stations to pursue a range of funding while nurturing core operations at start-up.
This approach has prompted community radio stations in the U.K. to raise a number of concerns, including (i) a lack of reliable core funding, (ii) a lack of awareness about potential funding sources, primarily at the local level and (iii) too much dependence on volunteers, who can be dedicated but not committed to station development over the long term.
As for student radio stations, the vast majority of funding - as much as 100 percent in the case of some stations - comes from Student Unions, i.e. subsidies paid to Student Unions by post-secondary students as part of their tuition package. Student radio stations are able to sell advertising time and take measures to attract sponsorships, but student fees provide by far the bulk of stations revenues.
At the present time, the U.K. Student Radio Association is requesting that Ofcom allow student radio stations to be eligible for licensing as community radio stations, while relaxing the regulation that 50 percent of funding can emanate from a single source.
In the U.S., community radio stations are generally low-power undertakings, licensed by the Federal Communications Commission for broadcasting service in the non-commercial, public portion of the FM band. Community radio in the U.S. tends to be seen as indistinguishable from both public broadcasting (such as stations owned by National Public Radio) and any low power FM (or LPFM) undertaking.
In fact, community radio in the U.S. - although marked by serious regulatory and legislative debate over the issue of LPFM described below - distinguishes itself as a unique category of the U.S. broadcasting system through:
- The extensive use of volunteers, who are really an extension of the listening audience as opposed to cheap labour;
- Little attention to audience numbers and ratings in favour of a focus on delivering quality programming; and
- Patchwork programming designed to cater to audience preferences, as opposed to the more nationally syndicated programming of National Public Radio (NPR).
Although community radio stations do not collect audience data, it is estimated that community radio outlets in the U.S. reach some 100 million people. At the present time, there are approximately 800 radio stations licensed as non-commercial or education radio services in the U.S., but this number includes community-based, religious/church-based, ethnic/ cultural, educational, native, university and campus radio (i.e. there is little regulatory distinction among these various categories of non-commercial radio). It does not include travel, third language or other information radio services.
An online review of 75 university and community stations indicates that virtually all campus and community radio stations broadcast both via FM and online, and maintain a website.
Approximately 200 community radio stations belong to the National Federation of Community Radio Broadcasters. In addition, the Prometheus Radio Project is a community radio effort at reforming what are viewed as overly restrictive rules governing LPFM in the U.S.
U.S. - Regulatory Framework
As noted above, community radio in the U.S. is licensed by the FCC, sometimes as full power FM stations and sometimes as low power FM stations (although community radio stations are predominantly LPFM). Community radio falls within the broader category of non-commercial radio; LPFM itself was created by the FCC in 2000, with the objective of licensing several thousand non-profit radio stations to serve local communities.
However, ensuing pressure from commercial broadcasters as well as NPR resulted in a rule requiring stations to be three adjacent channels away from a potential LPFM stations. While the viability of this regulation is still a matter of considerable debate in the U.S. - including an FCC study in 2004 that found little merit to the 3rd adjacency channel rule - it effectively limited the number of possible non-commercial radio stations.
LPFM licences are not available to individuals, commercial broadcasters or owners of other media such as newspapers. Thus non-commercial radio stations, including community radio stations, are restricted to an Effective Radiated Power of 100 watts (about 5.6 kilometres in radius), which can potentially serve larger cities and smaller, underserved rural areas of the country.
At the present time, a proposed Local Community Radio Act (H.R. 1147) was introduced to the U.S. Congress in February 2009. If passed, the bill would eliminate the 3rd adjacency rule, enabling the FCC to licence hundreds more non-commercial, LPFM stations.
Although this is the fourth attempt at enacting such legislation, the new U.S. political administration is viewed as more supportive of the principles underlying community-based media.
U.S. - Approach to Funding
The approach to funding community radio in the U.S. largely evolved in the 1980s, and has remained relatively intact since that time.
Approximately one-third of funding comes from local institutions, one-third from local listeners and businesses and the remainder from federal sources, mainly the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) Community Service Grants program. Support from local businesses should not be construed as advertising revenue, since advertising is not permitted under federal regulations for non-commercial radio.
CPB funding for community radio (which is sourced through an annual appropriation from the U.S. federal government) can comprise as little as 10 percent of revenues for larger stations and as high as 40 percent for smaller or rural stations. Some 800 community radio stations were provided with grants from the CPB Community Service Grants program in 2008; this program focuses on funding (i) stations in locations not served by public broadcasting and (ii) minority radio stations.
For 2007, grants from the CPB Radio Community Service program totaled just over $70M (U.S.), distributed to approximately 400 community radio stations for primarily operational and program funding. In terms of recipients, 50 percent were university-based, 40 percent were community-based and the remaining 10 percent was from 'state or local authority' groups.
Informing Community & Campus Radio Policies in Canada
There are two separate, yet related ways to examine whether and how international approaches to community and campus radio can inform Canadian regulation and policy.
The first of these is to identify similarities and differences between international and Canadian regulatory frameworks for community and campus radio.
The second is to identify similarities and differences between international and Canadian funding models for community and campus radio.
Community and campus radio are well integrated in the Canadian broadcasting system through a number of CRTC policy and regulatory instruments, including:
- Community Radio Policy, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2000-13;
- Campus Radio Policy, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2000-12; and
- Policy Framework for Community-based Media - Low-power Radio, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2002-61.
The Commission's policies for community and campus radio are very much in line with those that we reviewed across 12 international jurisdictions for this Report, in that they require stations to be not-for-profit undertakings with close ties to and demonstrated support from local communities. To this end, the Commission's existing policy instruments enable community and campus radio to acquire funding from a variety of sources, including advertising, sponsorships, membership drives and donations.
Current CRTC policies concerning community and campus radio also require adherence to other regulatory obligations with respect to content, diversity of programming/diversity of voice, the role of volunteers and quality of music and spoken word programming which differentiates community-based services from other public and commercial radio undertakings.
Once again, these echo the regulatory objectives and obligations that were found in most of the nations reviewed for this Study. Community radio in those countries that depart from these core principles (such as Germany and Spain) are those which have (i) emerged as recent components of a broadcasting system or (ii) have become less integrated in domestic systems of radio services.
Further to this, as a supporting policy instrument, the Commission has recognized the importance of providing sustainable funding for community radio services, by (i) eliminating restrictions on advertising for community stations, (ii) relaxing restrictions for campus radio by allowing any type of advertising and (iii) enabling private broadcasters to channel benefits arising from profitable industry transactions to the Community Radio Fund of Canada/le Fonds canadien de la radio communautaire.
To this end, the Commission has taken regulation beyond that of many other jurisdictions included in this Study, by opening the door to increases in community radio revenues from two sources.
In addition, the Commission's focus on the need to utilize community and campus radio as education and training facilities matches that of other mature regulatory frameworks (such as that of the U.K. and Australia) and goes well beyond similar principles set out within regulations for most of the other countries reviewed.
With respect to campus radio more specifically, the Commission's policy framework goes much further than that of most other jurisdictions, by the very fact that a separate regulatory framework is in place. Moreover, this regulatory framework clearly establishes the importance of campus radio in providing alternative spoken word and music programming, while taking additional steps to ensure student involvement in station operations (e.g. by requiring a balanced Boards of Directors).
One of the few departures from international regulatory frameworks for community and campus radio and that in Canada, is the requirement in some jurisdictions (such as Australia and the U.K.) for community and campus radio stations to file annual reports with audited financial statements, which can reveal progress made by individual stations while ensuring a level of accountability.
However, such annual reporting is only required in some jurisdictions that have distinctly different funding models for community and campus radio, where licensees are recipients of government-sourced operational (or other) funding.
Thus while the Canadian regulatory framework for community and campus radio equals or surpasses those reviewed in this international analysis, this is not the case with respect to the Canadian approach to funding. But this difference really resides in how foreign broadcasting systems are regulated and funded, especially those that set and collect household licence fees.
Obviously, Canada does not have a household licence fee system that would potentially direct resources to community and campus radio. Instead, the Canadian model for funding community and campus radio is mixed - i.e. licensees are expected to use volunteers and draw revenues from a number of sources.
In addition, the recently formed Community Radio Fund of Canada/le Fonds canadien de la radio communautaire will potentially provide additional resources for community radio going forward.
For its part, campus radio in Canada is generally dependent on student fees, donations and limited advertising.
As a consequence of this mixed model of funding, no system of core funding (i.e. an annual allotment of operational funding from a predictable source) has ever evolved in Canada. Given this, the Canadian system of community and campus radio more resembles that of Sweden: very robust, with many licensees and a strong regulatory framework, but with a lack of core funding that can create structural weakness and challenge community radio's goal of sustainability.
But in the Canadian case, were a model of core funding from government sources to emerge, it would likely reside with the Department of Canadian Heritage rather than the CRTC. At the present time, the Department provides limited funding for community radio in official language minority communities with respect to start up costs, equipment replacement and renewal and special projects. However, no core annual funding program is currently in place.
It should also be noted that the province of Québec is the only Canadian province that provides core funding for community radio, including community radio stations in anglophone minority communities. Funding is made available through the Québec Ministère de la culture, des communications et de la condition féminine.
Another potential source of funding for community and campus radio is - as in other countries - from other players in the broadcasting system, such as public and commercial broadcasters. In particular, it has been often suggested by the National Community and Campus Radio Association and l'ARC du Canada that core funding could be provided through an annual levy on private radio licensees.
Alternately, a portion of licence fees collected from other broadcasters by the CRTC could be redirected to community and campus radio - although any model that would have other broadcasters provide funding to potential competitors remains controversial.
Recommendations for Further Research
Three recommendations for further research arise out of the finding of this Study.
1) While this Report has examined community and campus radio in a number of jurisdictions, the countries selected are among the most developed in the world in terms of their broadcasting systems.
- To this end, and from the perspective of further informing Canadian policy and regulation, it would be valuable to examine the development and role of community and campus radio in a number of other jurisdictions where different models are emerging, e.g. India, Africa, West African nations, South Africa and former Eastern bloc countries such as Poland and Serbia. There is a strong base of resources for this analysis.
2) As noted in this Report, the role of volunteers is critical to the emergence and on-going development of community and campus radio. But questions arise as to whether and how community-based radio can achieve and maintain sustainability with such great dependence on unpaid labour and expertise.
- Once again from the perspective of Canadian policy and regulation - and given the importance of volunteers in the Canadian system - it would be important to examine the role of the voluntary sector in community-based media (i.e. potentially quantify its presence in Canada and qualitatively assess its importance).
3) As noted in this Report, approaches to the funding of community and campus radio in a number of countries often includes collecting and then funneling a portion of household licence fees to community media.
- While it may not be viable to introduce this type of licence fee to the Canadian system, it may be worthwhile to examine the economics of licence fees paid into the Canadian system by public and private broadcasters and assess the potential sourcing of funds for community media from this and other sources.
Summary Grid - International Approaches to Funding
Community & Campus Radio
|Country||Number of Stations||Key Regulations||Key Sources of Funding||Comments|
Community: 278 permanent licences
Indigenous: 80Campus: 5
|5-year licensing terms; must abide by codes of conduct; encouragement of niche focus to serve target audiences; all non-profit.||
Huge volunteer sector support;
Community: advertising, Community Broadcasting Foundation grantsCampus: student union grants, university grants
|Fully entrenched in the Australian broadcasting system; well organized and structured; lack of campus radio balanced by strong youth oriented community stations; huge audiences given focus on local content; massive voluntary sector commitment|
Community: 7 (four Dutch, three French)
Campus: 4 (French)
An additional 9 ethnic language stations are licensed as community/ campus stations.Virtually all 20 stations broadcast via FM and online.
|Three regulatory agencies by region and language; community/campus stations are licensed as Low Power FMs, limited to 15 watts ERP; all non-profit.||Strong reliance on volunteers; donations and memberships; one French-language fund (Fonds d'aide à la création Radiophonique) supported 26 projects with 193K Euros in funding, 2006.||Community radio is a fairly recent development in the Belgian broadcasting system, following the lifting of the public radio monopoly in the 1990s, and as late as 2002.|
|France||Non-commercial stations, including community, campus, cultural: 600, FM and online.||All regulations for commercial and public broadcasting apply; advertising permitted, but limited to 20 percent of total revenues; all non-profit.||Government funded through le Fonds de soutien à l'expression radiophonique, with four funding programs for start-up, operations, equipment and special projects.||All stations must file annual reports with audited financial statements; funding agency receives its money from tax dollars levied on ad revenues of commercial broadcasters.|
|Germany||No German-language term for community radio; approximately 83 community stations and 22 campus stations. Indications are that all broadcast via FM and online.||Broadcasting regulated by individual states, i.e. 15 regulatory agencies. Very little if any distinct or focused regulation for community or campus radio.||Licensing fees paid by households that own radio, television and/or PC devices - but most funding accrues to public radio; donations and personal contributions of volunteers.||Very little development in community and campus radio; a number of historical barriers, including expensive leasing of Deutsche Telekom transmitters.|
'Community of interest': 5 (three student, one Christian, one Irish -language)
|Five-year licences; applies principles of World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (see Appendix B of this Report); all non-profit.||Adapts Ofcom (U.K.) regulatory approach - no more than 50 percent total funding permitted from any one source; regulator provides grants; volunteers essential.||Number one priority for Irish community radio is acknowledged to be education, training and retention of volunteers.|
No distinct category for campus or student stations, but 60 to 70 community stations are 'student-run';90 percent broadcast online as well as FM
|Five-year licences for community radio (termed 'local' radio); licensing regime similar to that for public broadcasters; all non-profit.||Sourced by federal regulator through collection household licence fees; no restrictions on other sources, but core operational funding viewed as imperative.||Highly evolved, sustainable community radio sector; structurally integrated into the national budget for media; localization a key principle of public policy.|
Campus: 7 (six of which are part of a national network)All broadcast on-air and online.
|Licensing focused on serving larger markets, target groups including ethnic minorities; must demonstrate community support; all non-profit.||Annual operations partially paid through federal regulator, about 50 to 80 percent of total need; specific programs also supported; balance is from donations and memberships; volunteers are critical.||Student radio network shares resources and programming; very strong voluntary commitment supports sector sustainability.|
Community: about 100
Municipal (city hall): 700Evidence points to extensive online presence, all broadcast via FM
|No centralized regulatory authority or media law; regional and local regulation only; no licensing framework for community-based media (permission from local government is required). All non-profit.||Local and regional governments offer some support; no limits on advertising, but hard to attract; strong dependence on volunteers.||Like many European countries, community radio evolved from free radio or unlicensed radio services; lack of regulatory or legal framework results in a highly vulnerable sector.|
Total community-based radio: 1,000
Community radio: 150
Religious, campus, ethnic: 850Most if not all stations broadcast on FM and online.
|Three-year licences; one FM frequency reserved for community radio in each municipality; no requirement for non-profit.||Donations, volunteer expertise, small grants from local government. Regulator collects household licence fees, but not passed on to community radio.||Strong presence but structurally weak given absence of core funding; movement to integrate a small portion of licence fee for operational funding.|
|Switzerland||Community: 8 Campus: 2 (plus 3 online only); all 10 broadcast on FM and Online||Licences required if licence fee revenues are received; Online and DAB services do not require a licence, just notification. Must be non-profit.||Most funding is covered by licence fee revenue collected from households; advertising revenues and donations are also permitted.||Community radio very recent development, but structurally integrated in broadcasting system; expansion likely in DAB and online platforms.|
Campus: approx. 80Virtually all community stations broadcast online & on-air (or are planning to do so). Student stations restricted to LPFM, and focus on online service.
|Five-year licence terms; 50 percent cap on any single source of funding; stations must demonstrate 'social gain' in their applications.||Over 50 percent of funding comes from Public Funding Grants, including the Community Radio Fund; remainder is from non-public sources, including donations and advertising. Role of volunteers is critical. Student stations are funded by student fees.||Stations are accountable for achieving key commitments and demonstrating social gain through annual reports to Ofcom.|
|U.S.||800 non-commercial outlets (community, religious, ethnic, campus); FM and online are common.||Little regulatory distinction among non-commercial categories; LPFM created in 2000 by FCC, but adjacency rule limits number of outlets.||About 1/3 from Corporation for Public Broadcasting Community Service Grants; 1/3 donations; 1/3 local institutions. Volunteers essential.||Proposed Local Community Radio Act - if passed - will lift the adjacency restriction and open up LPFM frequencies for community radio.|
|Common features include: major role for volunteers; regulatory oversight; use of Low Power FM frequencies, but FM frequencies very scarce; core operational funding from government licence fees is common; very strong online presence in virtually all jurisdictions; websites used as community portals as well; newer community radio sectors can lack integration within domestic broadcasting systems.|
International Community and Campus Radio Resources
OLON (Organization of Local Broadcasters in The Netherlands) website (2009) (translated from Dutch to English)
Bailey, Olag et al (2008) Understanding Alternative Media Berkshire: McGraw Hill Open University Press
Dunaway, D et al (eds) (2007) Community Radio at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Commercialism vs. Community Power (see Community Media in the Information Age: Perspectives and Prospects) Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press
Additional Links - International Community Radio
The Community Radio Charter for EuropeRecognising that community radio is an ideal means of fostering freedom of expression and information, the development of culture, the freedom of form and confront opinions and active participation in local life; noting that different cultures and traditions lead to diversity of forms of community radio; this Charter identifies objectives which community radio stations share and should strive to achieve.
Community radio stations:
1. promote the right to communicate, assist the free flow of information and opinions, encourage creative expression and contribute to the democratic process and a pluralist society;
2. provide access to training, production and distribution facilities; encourage local creative talent and foster local traditions; and provide programmes for the benefit, entertainment, education and development of their listeners;
3. seek to have their ownership representative of local geographically recognisable communities or of communities of common interest;
4. are editorially independent of government, commercial and religious institutions and political parties in determining their programme policy;
5. provide a right of access to minority and marginalised groups and promote and protect cultural and linguistic diversity;
6. seek to honestly inform their listeners on the basis of information drawn from a diversity of sources and provide a right of reply to any person or organisation subject to serious misrepresentation;
7. are established as organisations which are not run with a view to profit and ensure their independence by being financed from a variety of sources;
8. recognise and respect the contribution of volunteers, recognise the right of paid workers to join trade unions and provide satisfactory working conditions for both;
9. operate management, programming and employment practices which oppose discriminations and which are open and accountable to all supporters, staff and volunteers;
10. foster exchange between community radio broadcasters using communications to develop greater understanding in support of peace, tolerance, democracy and development.
Adopted on 18 September 1994 in Ljubljana, Slovenia at the first AMARC Pan-European Conference of Community Radio Broadcasters
About the Author
This Report was researched and authored by Richard Cavanagh, Partner, CONNECTUS Consulting Inc. Mr. Cavanagh has over 20 years of experience in researching and analyzing Canada's cultural industries with specialization in radio broadcasting; he has extensive knowledge of radio policy and regulation, including community and campus radio in the Canadian broadcasting system. He completed studies on Community Radio in Official Language Minority Communities and Community Radio and Technology in 2008. Mr. Cavanagh is a former Vice-president, Radio with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
Mr. Cavanagh holds a PhD in Social Sciences from Carleton University and an M.A. in Sociology from Queen's University.
CONNECTUS Consulting Inc.
251 Loretta Avenue South
 Correspondence between the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and CONNECTUS Consulting, May 6, 2009.
 Ibid. p. 60
 Bailey, Olag et al (2008) Understanding Alternative Media Berkshire: McGraw Hill Open University Press, pp. 58-61.
 Tacchi and Price-Davies op. cit. page 28
 FSER Annual Report 2007
 Ibid, p. 4-5
 Ibid, p. 10
 World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), See Appendix A for the full text of the AMARC Charter.
 Stevenson, John (2006) Community Radio Support in Other Jurisdictions National Community and Campus Radio Association (NCRA) pp. 2-3; Tacchi and Price-Davies, op. cit. p. 35
 OLON (Organization of Local Broadcasters in The Netherlands) website (2009) (translated from Dutch to English)
 See Informotrac (Initiative for Mobile Training of Community Radio) (2009) and Radio Netherlands Training Centre, The Power of Community Radio (2006) ; Tacchi and Price-Davies (2001) op. cit. page 35.
 Escudero, Manuel Chapparo (2008) The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media Volume 1 (3): 177-192, see page 183; European Commission (2004) Community Radio in Western Europe ; Interlaw.org (2009) Communications in Spain, Internet
 Escudero (2008), p. 186
 Escudero, Manuel Chapparo (2008) The Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media Volume 1 (3): 177-192
 Ibid, p. 188
 Lewis, Peter (2008) "Finding and Funding Voices: the London Experience" Information, Society and Justice 2 (1): 5-20 ; Community Media Forum for Europe: Consultation on Community Radio and TV in Sweden (April 2008) ; Hederstrom, Christer (2008) Community Radio in Sweden Ideosphere - Nordic Radio Conference, Internet
 Op. cit.
 Community Media Association (U.K.) ; Ofcom Community Radio Report (March 2009) (Ofcom did not identify the parent companies in question; however, it is not unusual for community radio stations to be owned by a parent with other not-for-profit interests, or to partner with other not-for-profit organizations as a way of sharing resources or accessing funding opportunities.)
 Dunaway, D et al (eds) (2007) Community Radio at the Beginning of the 21st Century: Commercialism vs. Community Power (see Community Media in the Information Age: Perspectives and Prospects) Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press
 CPB's Community Service Grant Program (2007), Internet
 From AMARC, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Retrieved on March 20, 2009
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