|Title||The space between: Defining the place for community radio|
This thesis examines the emergence of Community Radio in the United Kingdom. It places the sector within an historical context dominated by the BBC and strongly influenced by the subsequent arrival of commercial radio broadcasting. Understanding this historical context, which includes consideration of the role played by unlicensed 'pirate' radio operators, is, in the opinion of the author, a critical prerequisite necessary for assessing how and why current Community Radio practice has developed in the way it has.
Primary research for this thesis includes a variety of semi-structured interviews with campaigners, practitioners and regulators and, whilst primarily focused on the emergence of the Community Radio sector within the British context, it does not ignore wider international perspectives. Recognising that, well before Community Radio began to emerge in the UK, much of the early conceptual development of the sector took place in other jurisdictions, the author also draws upon a number of international sources, including some primary research in the Republic of Ireland, Norway and the United States of America.
The influence of two key factors, those of regulation and technology, are central to this research, the author arguing that these in particular have helped define (and constrain) the current position and future opportunities available to Community Radio within the United Kingdom. Legislation and regulation may have defined clear, and in some instances unique, operational objectives for British Community Radio, but when defining such objectives they have also had to take into account limited broadcast spectrum availability, constraining the scope and scale of the sector as a result.
Beyond a consideration of the historical and of present day practice, this thesis also looks towards the future, examining current developments in digital broadcasting which offer the potential to counter such current capacity constraints and provide opportunities for additional community-based services in future.