Community Television is an opening up of the airwaves to the community at large to both produce and broadcast alternative programming which celebrates diversity and in which all can participate. Community Television is a tool for community development where geographical communities and communities of interest can make their own programmes and then broadcast them on their own channel, which they themselves operate. Community TV differs from Local TV, and from Public Service TV, in that it is television made by the community for the community, it is not-for-profit and is owned and controlled by the community it serves. Community TV is legislated for in Ireland under the Broadcasting Act (2001).
Community Television is about much more than simply broadcasting programmes. It is a long-term development process that enables communities to access training, equipment and resources to make programmes but also to participate in the running of the channel itself. Community Television requires substantial funding for equipment, training and resources to make it happen.
Community Television is already up and running in Dubiln and Navan and is well established in other parts of the world. It forms part of a significant Community Media Sector. Other examples of Community Media include Community Radio Stations and Community Newspapers, both of which currently exist in Ireland. Community media initiatives are generally small-scale and accessible to their audience both in terms of production and control. Participation and empowerment are key objectives of community media and it is closely linked to community development.
Community Media provides a counterbalance and an alternative to the mainstream media, which is generally owned and controlled by governments or large corporations. In recent years some major media and technology corporations and companies have merged to take advantage of the commercial opportunities that new and converging technologies allow. This concentration of ownership by a few large conglomerations is widening even further the gap between producers and consumers of media content. As few would dispute the major role the media plays in providing information, shaping ideologies and forming opinions, the need for community media is evident.
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