New Community Radio Opportunities to Increase Provision of Local Services and Information

Community radio in the U.S. received a large boost in January when President Obama signed a billed that will permit establishment of an estimated 800 to 1200 new local community radio stations

About 800 of the non-commercial community stations are already operating and providing music, health, education, and local information, news, and sports. The stations are run by community organizations, churches, and other civic groups, typically staffed by volunteers, and dependent upon donations from organizations and listeners.

Community radio operations tend to provide information about community and civic organizations that are overlooked by commercial broadcasting, focus on social issues in communities, and provide services to minority, ethic and immigrant groups. Programming on community radio is distinctively different from commercial radio and tends to be more local than, and providing alternative content to, that of public radio stations.

The stations operate on low power, making them useful for servicing small towns, counties, metropolitan suburbs and neighborhoods.

The expansion of spectrum devoted to community radio had been sought for several decades and the Local Community Radio Act signed by the president directs the Federal Communications Commission to make provision for the additional services. Some disputes with commercial channels over spectrum are expected in large metropolitan areas during that process.

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