Beyond a Spot on the Dial
This project involves study of existing over-the-air stations, as well as a number of individuals and groups which have leveraged alternative channels for distribution, as either supplements or replacements for such an outlet. Such choices are, in one sense, not new. Stations have used cable channels, or leased airtime from licensed outlets, for decades. The use now, however, of web-based distribution and digital sideband channels, is significant due to the distinctive economics and reach of such outlets, in comparison to regular broadcast solutions.
This study examines the decision-making employed by stations in choosing to employ such alternative distribution mechanisms, identifying the constraints under which stations operate, and the extent to which these choices function as a form of regulatory arbitrage. I analyze the impacts of such decisions, on access, conformity with station mission, cost, and the nature of the resulting outlet. The paper intersects with broader conversations about how community media practitioners negotiate regulatory, technological, and other constraints, and the impact of such responses.
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