Integrating Qualititative and Quantitative Audience Reasearch – A proposed Irish framework (Thematic stream: „Researching Community Media Audiences“)
Abstract: The Community Radio movement in the Republic of Ireland comprises 23 fully licenced stations which are regulated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). The BAI’s Community Radio Policy states that “active community participation and general listenership are equally relevant when assessing a community station’s relationship with the community served”. IRTC Commissioned Study of Pilot Community Radio Stations (1996) notes that “Perceiving and satisfying needs is not a static process and can change only through ongoing exploration with the community”. It is recognised that the diversity of stations types, communities served, length of time of air, combined with the fact that not all citizens of Ireland are in a community radio franchise areas poses challenges for audience research.
In recent years, there has been research at station-level into different elements of the audience’s relationship with the station. Though useful to the individual station, the lack of standard methodologies has meant that even where station are investigating the same elements, there can be no comparability. The level of independence of the research has varied wildly and there has been significant duplication. The limited audience research carried out in other jurisdictions, notably Australian, can inform Irish Audience research which can adopt best practices, and evolve and integrate new methodologies based on Irish circumstances.
An investigation was carried out by Diarmuid McIntyre and Veronica Santorum of Grey Heron Media at the behest of Craol the Community Radio Forum of Ireland into the feasibility of a national audience research approach. This has resulted in a proposal for a coherent framework for audience research (Mosaic). The proposed framework is built of a set of 4 standalone but complementary quantitative and qualitative elements. Each element could be separately undertaken. Taken collectively, the elements could provide the basis an ongoing national and station specific picture of the Awareness, Audience and Impact of Community Radio in Ireland. The proposed framework is currently under consideration by the Coordinating Committee of Craol.