Our history

2000 – 2002
Broadcast exchange platform for cultural and educational content

The CBA was launched as an online broadcast exchange platform in 2000 on the initiative of Radio FRO, the Free Radio Upper Austria. Community radios in German-speaking countries, regularly put contributions from other radios on the air and, until then, sent each other radio broadcasts on music cassette or CD. An online exchange platform was made, making this much easier. In 1999, a first prototype went online. Based on the experience gained, the platform was completely reprogrammed one year later, and officially launched in 2000. The CBA was therefore, one of the first on-demand platforms in Austria. From the very beginning, the primary goal was not only to exchange broadcasts, but also to create the most open and long-term access possible to civil society media productions, away from commercial interests.

2002 – 2009
Change to an Austria-wide platform

2 years later, the Association of Free Radios Austria (VFRÖ) joined the project as a partner, making the platform a joint project of all Austrian community radios. Since then, thousands of volunteer program makers were – and still are – collaborating on this unique platform.

In 2004, the platform got a new design and numerous new functions.
This made podcasting possible for the first time and gave visitors more freedom to use the growing database for research and educational purposes. Statistical tools, feedback and comment functions provided uploaders with an analysis of their own reach for the first time. From this point on, the CBA gradually gained importance as a digital distribution channel that allowed producers to reach additional audiences.

2010 – 2016
The CBA as a contemporary archive

In 2010, the platform was relaunched and placed on a completely new technical basis as a WordPress plugin. This allowed shorter development steps and a more cost-effective use of contemporary technologies. In an increasingly complex field, using the programming services of a worldwide open source developer allows for broader communities to be accessed.

In 2010, the CBA received an Honorary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica in the category „Digital Communities”, which primarily acknowledged the collaborative character and growing importance of the platform for civic society communities.

Archivia12 & 14
With the two international conferences Archivia12 and Archivia14, serious legal restrictions that severely hinder free access to digital content – whether from museums, libraries or platforms such as the CBA – were publicly discussed.
Against the backdrop of current debates on net policy at EU and national level, the two events were also dedicated to the future potential of digital archives for new forms of creative work and cultural production.
In close cooperation with universities and public archives, an initial political position paper was produced that set the importance of free access to information against the economic exploitation interests of individuals. A democratic information society is only one that guarantees free and permanent access to knowledge, information and opinion for the general public. More at www.archivia.at

Living Archives
Between 2014 and 2016, the project group around the CBA was involved in the international project „CAPTCHA – Creative Approaches to Living Cultural Archives”. In addition to taking stock of archival practice in European community media, it aimed to develop creative technical solutions, to make digital data holdings easy and comprehensibly accessible to a wider public. The result, in addition to several international conferences in Dublin, Halle and Budapest, is, among other things, a storytelling and visualization tool for digital media archives. More at www.livingarchives.eu

2016 – 2019
CBA as a public open space

The #mediana17 and #mediana18 conferences focused primarily on the role of digital media, their monopolization and impact on public opinion formation. The need for public benefit-oriented, non-commercial infrastructures and algorithms were once again brought into focus – in order to avoid making the control of public debates dependent on the financing models of the large platform operators.
In terms of media diversity and diversity of opinion, rules for ethical algorithms and a regulation of online media based on fundamental rights should be drawn up.
The position paper on media funding and platform regulation was subsequently drafted with the cooperation of numerous experts from the media and journalism. More at www.mediana.at

Kick-off for the 20th anniversary

In May 2020, the CBA was finally spun off into the “Cultural Broadcasting Archive – Verein zur Förderung digitaler Kommunikation“, which is now the owner and operator of the platform. To this end, Radio FRO triggered the Association of Free Radio Austria’s share in the platform and resold it to the new association.

The 20th anniversary was also the occasion for a new corporate identity and a new website design. The platform was relaunched on October 10, 2020 and has since been further developed in a variety of directions, giving greater emphasis on opening up to new target groups.

Building a European Cultural Backbone

In May 2022, the international hackathon and conference „Building a European Cultural Backbone” took place, which marked the start of the European network of civil society platforms of the same name. In addition to a number of technical aspects, media policy issues were discussed, such as how democratic spaces for discourse („Public Open Spaces”) – in contrast to the commercially oriented Big Tech platforms – can be created in Europe’s online sphere.