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Digital connections: a survey of Australian ethnic community broadcasting - preliminary report

Radio broadcasting Community broadcasting Digital media CALD Ethnic communities Australia

This report presents the results of a national survey into ethnic community broadcasting stations around Australia. The survey was conducted online in English throughout 2022, and was open to station managers, ethnic program coordinators at generalist community radio stations, programmers, and ethnic community broadcasters. It examines the experience of respondents at some of the full-time ethnic stations, alongside those ethnic programs that sit within a broader, more generalist station. It includes stations in both urban, metropolitan, and regional/rural areas. In this sense, it is a true indication of how ethnic community broadcasting is operating across the full range of the Australian community broadcasting sector.

The survey was conducted as part of a larger 12-month research project supported by the NEMBC (through funding provided from the Community Broadcasting Foundation, CBF) and Griffith University. It is a mixed quantitative and qualitative study, comprised of the survey focused upon in this report, and accompanying interviews and audience focus groups.

Key findings:

  • There were 122 different language groups identified by our survey respondents that were on-air on ethnic community broadcasting. The most prominent language groups were Indian (Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalee), Greek, Spanish (multiple countries), Macedonian, Arabic (multiple countries), Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Croatian, Filipino, German, and Serbian.
  • Excluding the full-time ethnic stations, the number of weekly hours for ethnic programming ranged from 6 hours to 45 hours, averaging 17.7 hours per week on generalist stations.
  • In 2022, three-quarters of ethnic community broadcasters were live streaming their content through a website; with 43 percent also providing on-demand streaming and the same amount, 43 percent, also using Community Radio Plus. In contrast, a very small group of stations, 6 percent, are still using terrestrial (traditional broadcast) platforms only.
  • The most successful ways to engage with communities, however, remains physical or face-to-face opportunities for ethnic community broadcasting. These include outside broadcasts at community or other public events, sponsorships on the station, open days, and youth ‘take-overs’.
  • Three-quarters of survey respondents said their station was proactively trying to attract new and emerging communities to offer programming through community outreach and engagement in public events, but resources and lack of volunteers was often a hurdle, along with an already-full programming schedule.
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