Trends and Perspectives on Digital Platforms and Digital Television in Europe| Fragility and Empowerment: Community Television in the Digital Era

Andrew Ó Baoill, Salvatore Scifo


The advent of television technologies has significantly restructured the context within which community television producers operate. Digital technologies have undercut “spectrum scarcity” arguments for limiting access to distribution platforms and opened up new paths to reach audiences. It has also, however, seen a decline in some of the regulatory structures that provided protection to noncommercial providers in eras of spectrum scarcity. The rise of the prosumer has, in its focus on production by individuals, weakened some of the underpinnings (economic and ideological) for community-based production, with consequent challenges for the sustainability of these often precarious projects. In this article, we tease out the implications of digitization for community television operators, exploring the state of the sector in the liberal North Atlantic region, and compare “traditional” community channels with “newer” channels that have emerged in the digital context in the past two decades. Our study explores the opportunities and challenges that face the sector following the transition to digital models.


community television, participation, public access, community development, media policy, social movements, digital networks

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