Today I have resigned my membership of the Community Media Association. At the extraordinary general meeting that was held today a new constitution was agreed prior to the CMA applying to become a charity. I fundamentally disagree with the terms of this constitution and believe that it is not fit for the purpose of promoting community media as an alternative model of media engagement that is founded on social gain principles, human rights, democratic participation, self-representation, and collaboration.
The changes that have been made to the CMA’s constitution reduce the capacity for individuals to participate in the development of the organisation on a one-member-one-vote basis, which will narrow the range of voices that are heard and represented, and which will fail to renew the community media movement in the UK, with the challenges of shifting platforms, expectations, social changes, and development needs.
By adopting an audience-centric model of provision, the CMA will be aligned with other top-down organisations, and will cease to represent alternative media provision that is grass-roots based, focussed on emergent communities, and which would side-line the skills, opinions and views of people and groups within their communities, rather than enhancing them as a progressive view of media would maintain.
Lastly, the exclusion of organisation which may be for profit to play an active and equal role in supporting the principles of not-for-profit community media, fails to take account the changing economic circumstances and public policy models, such as the rise of freelancers and independent business that would wish to align themselves with the social objectives of the CMA, but who are funded through private enterprise. These will now be excluded from the membership structures of the CMA.
I have been a supporter of the CMA since 2006, when I helped to host the conference. This is not a decision that I have made frivolously. However, I now feel that the CMA no longer reflects my interest and my commitment to the development of a movement for community media in the UK. A movement that is widespread, which is democratic and participative, and which has a principle focus on human rights, inclusion, and most important, an unwavering commitment to countering the exclusion and marginalisation that many people face when trying to get a fair deal in the media.