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Community Media: A Full Spectrum Future

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Community media is at an inflection point. Between the passing of the Community Radio Act and the emergence of the internet in community engagement, community media centers that operate public access television (PEG) stations have a an opportunity to evolve. As the Federal Communications Commission moves to complete its Future of Media Report, the New America’s Open Technology Initiative is releasing a report “Full Spectrum Community Media: Expanding Public Access to Communications Infrastructure” and has invited a range of speakers to comment on it.

The report argues that the key to sustaining a community media center in the future will be expanding beyond the provision of public access television and participating in the provision of local broadband, operation of radio broadcast licenses as well as other communications infrastructure. For PEG channels this means they must seek to expand the definition of “public access” so that it refers not only to a type of content that is locally-produced and reflects the diversity of a community, but also to a type of communications infrastructure that is governed by the people who use it. The policies outlined in this paper are essential to making public access infrastructure a reality.