The study focuses on indigenous radio practices in Argentina under the implementation of the 2009 Law 26.522 on Audiovisual Communication Services, currently undergoing reform. This pioneering law recognised indigenous broadcasters, thereby satisfying the call of indigenous organisations, during the legislative process, for their right to ‘communication with identity’ to be included. Nevertheless, we believe that the application of the law has been weak overall, and that the legal definition of media is questionable. Furthermore, we have hypothesised that indigenous media are caught between de jure public ownership and de facto communal belonging. This hypothesis derives from a comparative analysis of the Argentinian legal framework and similar reforms implemented throughout Latin America, as well as from a dialogue between international studies on community media and the literature on indigenous media. In order to determine whether and in what terms indigenous media can be considered as community media, we carried out semi-structured interviews with key informants from indigenous communities who had been authorised to broadcast under the law’s implementation. We explored the genesis and objectives of their communication projects; programming and agendas; external relationships; internal organisation (with a focus on the sustainability strategies adopted); respondents’ definitions of ‘community communication’, ‘indigenous communication’ and ‘communication with identity’; and respondents’ opinions on the application of the law and its media definition. We found that many indigenous broadcasters in Argentina act as community media and resemble them ontically – that is to say, in how and why they remain in the (mediatised) public space. Nevertheless, indigenous radio is ontologically different from community media because it is often shaped by its ethnic identity, namely, who the indigenous peoples are and how they represent themselves in the (mediatised) public space.
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