BAI publishes community radio report

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has launched a new report, ‘Community Radio – Delivering Social Benefit’, as part of its Community Media Action Plan.

The publication of the report marks National Community Radio Day and was commissioned by the BAI, supported by Community Radio Ireland (CRAOL) and undertaken by Nexus Research Cooperative.

The report examines the development and implementation of an evaluation methodology that addresses the statutory requirement for community media to deliver a social benefit to the community it serves. It is an abridged version of two reports: ‘Assessing the Benefit of Community Radio, A Toolkit for Community Radio’; and, ‘Introducing a Social Benefit Approach to Community Radio – A Compendium of Stories’, both published by the BAI and CRAOL.

As part of the research, a toolkit was developed for use by practitioners and other stakeholders to determine the value created by community media operators at all levels within the community served. The toolkit outlines a Social Benefit Framework, which helps stations to identify the benefits they generate and to demonstrate them to others.

A review examining the application of the Social Benefit Framework to the community radio sector nationally was then carried out by the researchers, using a methodology where stories collected from stations were assessed. Nine stories from community radio stations across the country are documented in the report launched today, offering insight into how stations engage with the community, and benefit individuals and groups locally.

Today’s report will also inform the review of the BAI’s Community Radio Policy, which will take place later this year. It is intended that the policy will be updated to reflect the changing face of community media, which has evolved considerably since it was first published in 1995.

Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O’Keeffe said: “The findings from the Community Radio – Delivering Social Benefit report demonstrate the significant progress that has been made over the past year in implementing the actions included in the BAI’s Community Media Action Plan.

“One of the plan’s nine actions requires the development of a definitional framework for the concept of social benefit, and the establishment of suitable viable methodologies to assess the extent to which the different elements of this framework are being delivered at a station and sectoral level. The report on the application of the Social Benefit Framework is recognised by stakeholders as a significant outcome and the BAI is delighted to support the publication of this abridged version of that report.”

He added: “Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing media and regulatory landscape, the BAI has added an additional action to the Community Media Action Plan for 2020, which reflects a commitment in the Broadcasting Services Strategy 2018 to review the community radio policy. The policy was developed more than 20 years ago, at a point when community media did not encompass television or online services. This review will examine the overall policy framework for community media in the context of the current national and international landscape; and the Social Benefit Framework from the Community Radio – Delivering Social Benefit report will be factored into this analysis and any emerging conclusions.”

Chair of CRAOL, Declan Gibbons added: “The Community Radio – Delivering Social Benefit report is the product of more than two years of research, looking in-depth at the community radio sector and how it delivers social benefit to communities. That social benefit can be derived through a number of ways, including volunteering, programming, training, engagement, participation, listening or broadcasting.

“The report aims to support the community radio sector to capture and describe that valuable and often under-recognised work; work our member stations are engaged in every day. It arms us with the tools to gather and document the stories that best demonstrate the essence and ethos of community radio. It is only through demonstrating the social benefit that our sector delivers, that we can capture the true value of community radio and media.”

Further information on the Social Benefit Framework can be found here.



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