Accountability in the commercial radio sector: Lessons from Canada

Geneviève A. Bonin

Abstract


In most areas of public policy, where regulation is expected to exhibit transparency and accountability, evaluation is recognized as necessary. Broadcasting is no different. Nevertheless, recently published reports argue that a new evaluative approach for broadcasting processes and policies is required because past assessments are outdated and current methodologies are lacking in rigour. Using a mixed methods approach, which explores the use of formal evaluation methods, this study seeks to provide tangible data about 141 commercial radio stations having undergone radio licence renewals from 1997-2007. The objective of the study is to determine how and to what extent Canada’s regulation agency, the Canadian radio-television and telecommunications commission (CRTC), holds radio station owners accountable to the objectives of the Canadian legislation, regulations and policies, as well as broadcasters’ conditions of licence. Although the CRTC has criteria to evaluate stations and has been moving toward streamlining in recent years, it is apparent that case by case approaches are still employed and discrepancies have taken place in providing sanctions to non-compliant stations. Results also demonstrate how the process lacks monitoring to uphold accountability. The study provides an example for all countries seeking to improve accountability in the communication sector as a whole.

Keywords


Radio; accountability; evaluation; Canada; commercial radio

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS622012567