The Community Media Charter: A Forgotten Guiding Light?

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I’m working on a charter for community cohesion for community media groups, and I’ve been searching online for information about the Community Media Charter. I’ve not been able to find many recent references to the charter, and wondered what has happened to it?

  • Is anyone still advocating and championing the principles of the charter?
  • Are the principles that were mapped out in 1997 still relevant?

Thanks to Grant Goddard for finding me a link to a document that makes reference to the charter, see page 22.

From my initial search, I’ve been able to ascertain that the Community Media Charter was adopted by the Community Media Association (CMA) on 16 July 2012. The Charter has been described as rooted in the ethos of inclusivity and universal access. But what has become of it recently?

I need to verify the information because this is only an initial search, and experience tells me there is much more than is coming up via the search engines I’m using. Of course, I would welcome any pointers.

The Charter’s Origins: The Community Media Charter was approved in Edinburgh on 25 October 1997. It shared many elements with the AMARC Community Radio and was seen as a promising step towards a more inclusive and accessible media landscape.

The Charter in Practice: The Charter has been referenced in several discussions and debates, including the Wireless Telegraphy Bill in the House of Lords in the UK Parliament, where its aims were considered for potential incorporation into legislative thinking. Moreover, the Charter has been a point of reference in the development of community media policies. For instance, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has mentioned the Charter in its future plans for radio, proposing reviews to set its future direction.

The Charter Today: Fast forward to today, and the Charter’s current status is somewhat unclear. While it was once a ‘guiding light’ for community media initiatives across the UK, its more recent use and application are not well known. It doesn’t appear to be in active discussion or being referenced in recent policy or academic discourse.

The Future of the Charter:  As the media landscape continues to evolve, and with the rise of digital media, the internet and now AI, the ways in which we communicate and share information have transformed. The question remains: does the Charter fit into this new landscape? The future of the Community Media Charter is uncertain, however, as there appears to be no active promotion of its principles.

As professional community media advocates, academics, and policy developers, someone has to consider whether the Charter still holds relevance? If so, how can it be adapted to our current media landscape? If not, what lessons can we learn from it? The Community Media Charter has played a significant role in shaping the community media landscape in the UK. However, its current status and future are uncertain.

What are your thoughts? Is the Community Media Charter still relevant today? Message me, and we can share a conversation and explore these questions together.

Community Media Charter: From Page 22 of Making Media with Communities: Guidance for Researchers.

THE COMMUNITY MEDIA CHARTER – adopted by CMA, 16 July 2012
Recognising that Community Media is rooted in an ethos of inclusivity and universal access to opportunity, and that it is sourced and produced by organisations, by individuals and by informal groups, whether characterised by geography, interest, ethnicity, age, gender or social background;

Recognising that the production, practice and content of Community Media foster greater understanding among communities, including those most marginalised, and support peace, tolerance, democracy and development;Community Media organisations, groups and networks should:

  1. Promote the right to communicate, foster freedom of expression and freedom to form and confront opinions, assist the free flow of information and opinions, encourage creative expression, contribute to the democratic process and to a pluralist society.
  2. Provide access to training, production and distribution facilities, encourage creative talent and foster local traditions and culture, provide services for the benefit, entertainment, education, engagement and development of the wider community.
  3. Seek to have their ownership representative of local geographically recognisable communities or of communities of common interest.
  4. Be editorially independent of government, commercial interests, religious institutions and political parties.
  5. Honestly inform an audience on the basis of information drawn from various sources, and provide a right of reply to any person or organisation who is or may be subject to serious misrepresentation.
  6. Ensure a right of access to production facilities and platforms for minority and marginalised groups, in order to promote and protect cultural diversity.
  7. Be established as not-for-profit organisations, which reinvest any surplus and ensure their independence by being financed from a variety of sources.
  8. Recognise and respect the contribution of volunteers, affirm the right of paid workers to join appropriate trade unions and provide equally satisfactory working conditions for all.
  9. Operate management, programming and employment practices that oppose discrimination, promote equality, and are open and accountable to all.
  10. Promote and foster improved communication and partnership working in the community media sector, building networks at all levels to further develop good practice and strengthen communities.