Being Regulated: Licence to Imagine New Technology for Community Radio
Licencing frameworks are embedded with sociotechnical imaginaries that limit the potential for networked technologies to make traditional media forms, like radio, more inclusive. We sought to refine and extend a platform, RootIO, which aims to enable diverse people to run small radio stations by using internet and mobile networks that avoid the costs of studios and specialist equipment. We situated design and refinement in the activities of groups that set up and ran four community stations in rural Romania and some Irish islands over three-years and found national regulations limited who articulated requirements. Activities in applying for, and complying with, licences shaped design priorities, embedded temporal demands, certain organisational structures and division of responsibilities, and assumptions about studios and professionalism. Indeed, small radio stations are subject to the same values as large media corporations that pursue market power. Regulatory frameworks are specific to nations and media form, yet our analysis illustrates that they impede designing platforms to widen inclusion by enacting broader sociotechnical imaginaries. We hope this reflection provokes discussion, in HCI and CSCW, about our responsibilities in engaging with the policies that shape possible futures.