Image © Shutterstock The Council of Europe recognises the value of community media as a source of local content, cultural and linguistic diversity, media pluralism, social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.

It endorses the commitment of community media to media and information literacy, through the development of critical and creative thinking and active participation in media content production.

Promoting standards Promoting standards
The role of community media The role of community media

Community media take the form of broadcasting and/or multimedia projects and share some of the following characteristics: independence from governments, business companies, religious institutions and political parties; not-for-profit orientation; voluntary participation of civil society members in the devising and management of programmes; activities aiming at social gain and community benefit; ownership by and accountability to local communities and/or communities of interest which they serve; commitment to inclusive and intercultural practices. Community media are civil society organizations, usually registered as legal entities that offer and encourage participation at different levels of their structures. Also referred to as “third media sector”, community media have a clearly distinct identity alongside national public service media and private commercial media.

As alternative and complementary channels of media production and distribution, community media facilitate active citizenship and political participation for all. They serve diverse communities and involve thousands of volunteers in multilingual media productions, in training and in management - with women, marginalized groups, artists, journalism students, citizens, some with a migrant or refugee background, non-mainstream DJs, youth and elderly people actively at the forefront.

Overcoming challenges Overcoming challenges

Community media organizations are an important part of the fabric of democratic societies, yet in many European countries they still lack formal, legal recognition, fair access to distribution platforms and sustainable funding. Funding typically comes from public sources, volunteers’ contributions, participation-based training and grants for social-impact projects. In reality, however, and due to the lack of clear recognition and status for community media, special public funds for community media, where they exist, risk to be easily removed or diverted to other media entities, including private and profit-oriented projects.

Access to adequate distribution technologies is challenging for community media who are usually small-scale broadcasters who depend on affordable rates for author rights, terrestrial frequencies and bandwidth on digital platforms. In most European countries, the necessary technical equipment is obtained through in-kind donations and work is done mainly by volunteers. Audio and video broadcast services provided by community media are often undervalued and underpaid, and rarely given due prominence on digital platforms.