Introducing Community Audio Towers as an alternative to community radio in Uganda
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Community radio started as an alternative to commercial media. The need for an alternative was clear, with many societal voices unrepresented, indicating the domination of the means of mental production by a few. This article presents two communities in Uganda that use Community Audio Towers (CATs) as an alternative to community radio, and examines why the communities prefer the use of CATs to ‘mainstream’ community radio. Using data collected through observation at two sites in Uganda and 10 key informant interviews from major communication stakeholders, including Uganda’s Minister of Information and Communication Technology, the article presents findings indicating that CATs are self-sustaining, with no NGO influence, and they redefine news to mean local emergencies and occurrences, while having no structures (horizontal/vertical rhetoric) as they are started and run by one community member. The challenges of the new alternative media are also discussed.
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