Document Type

Thesis

Publication details

Coates, WL 2005, 'New information and communication technologies and community radio stations', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright WL Coates 2005

Abstract

This is an investigation of the diffusion of new information and communication technologies (ICTs), particularly the Internet, by community broadcasting organisations. In order to understand ICT diffusion processes in community radio stations, this study focuses on a particular project which saw a large scale diffusion of Internet technologies across Australian community radio stations at the beginning of 1998. The Community Access Network (CAN) project was an initiative of the Australian government, and saw funding for the provision of an Internet ready computer to every licensed community radio station in Australia. In approaching this subject, this research employed social constructivist assumptions, expecting that ICT use, and in particular the CAN workstations, would vary from station to station, reflecting the cultural and organisational conditions in each environment. As such the study aimed to understand the ways in which ICT technologies have been used and understood by community ralo station management and their participants. Since community radio stations are organisations, this study employed Everett Rogers' framework for understanding diffusion of innovation processes within organisations, acknowledging that organisational variables act on innovation behaviour in a manner over and above that of the aggregate of individual members of the organisation. This approach provided scope for the investigation and comparison of organisational factors, as well as meaning making on the part of individual participants. The research was based on data collected from two case studies, chosen on the basis of their divergent social, cultural and organisational environments; 4EB in Brisbane, a metropolitan, ethnic community radio station; and 2NCR-FM in Lismore, a regional, generalist community radio station. Ethnographic methods of observation and interviews were employed to collect qualitative data, providing insider accounts of community broadcaster's use, experience, and understanding of the new technologies in their day-to-day broadcast practices. By looking at two different community radio stations, this research acknowledges points of similarity and difference across these organisational situations, identifying factors that contribute to variation in technology take-up in particular station programming emphasis, perception of need, organisational resources, role of innovation champions, training, ICT policy and broadcaster variables. Evidence drawn from these case studies, and the specific ICT investigated, contributes to a general understanding of factors in the diffusion of ICT technologies across the community broadcast sector, providing a frame of reference for anticipating subsequent innovation diffusion. In particular, there are implications for future diffusion projects which plan to deploy new technologies across the community radio sector. It also contextualises community broadcasting and ICT use within the field of new technology uptake by broadcast sectors in general.

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