The Purpose of the research was to explore the opportunities presented by digital convergence for locally produced and broadcast integrated television & radio for development education, development communication strategies and local content capture among the poor.
The starting premises of the research were:-
-Community radio is known to have strong developmental benefits
-There is a strong trend towards television, even among the poor
-There will be new opportunities for audiovisual media presented by digitalconvergence.
These propositions together resulted in the question: Will there be widespread deployment of such a thing as Community Television and if so, what might be its shape, what might be its essential features, and what role might it play in development?
The research was informed by desk research, two technical reviews and a stakeholder consultation in four countries - Honduras, South Africa, Tanzania and Ghana. It proved very timely as it contributed significantly to ongoing consultations in South Africa and Tanzania. In South Africa ICASA announced the availability of a four year community television license and ongoing lobbying for frequencies should result in a number of initiatives happening in the next year or so. In Tanzania, the regulator consulted on community radio licensing, resulting in a lowering in license fees.
The net conclusion of the research was that community television could play a huge role in empowering local communities. While community radio has such a role now, it is possible that television viewing could over the next ten years erode the role of radio. Uptake of low power televisions could leave communities with national or multi channel broadcasts that are entertaining but do very little to stimulate dialogue about development, empower people as agents of change, protect local language and local culture. Community television could play a strong role in stimulating development dialogue, supporting local economies, be a vehicle for decentralised government egovernance and share local content in local language and local culture - a local voice. Advocates of community television need to be realistic in the development of the institutional framework for the station, and in the influence of the wider environment on the shape of the station.
The report ends with a number of general recommendations, and a specific recommendation that some pilot community television stations should be set up in the immediate future to document the parameters required for a successful innovative community television station.
Gamos Ltd, Reading, UK, 90 pp.