Community TV pledge: very little, very late

tvsFor years the Howard Government failed to provide any clear transition path for community television to digital platforms, so it is with someone irony we learn today that a Coalition Government would allocate $10m towards what it neglected to pledge for years.

As the Rudd Government maintains an uncertain future for community television, the Australian Community Television Alliance has welcomed the belated support in its campaign to a digital spectrum.

So far the government has only indicated community stations “will not be left behind” as Australians switch to digital by the end of 2013. ACTA was let down by the federal budget, which avoided the issue entirely.

In welcoming the news from the Opposition, ACTA noted that the sector’s current plight is the result of the previous Government’s failure to provide a pathway to digital for Community TV when it was in office.

“Community Television is targeted at audiences that are under-served by the other free-to-air channels. The sector provides access for special interest groups, multicultural communities and social networks that are not well catered for by the mainstream media,” ACTA Secretary, Laurie Patton (pictured) said.

“Community TV is a unique source of local programming in an era when more and more of what we see on television comes from overseas”.

“Community Television also acts as an incubator for new talent and new program concepts.”

It’s hard not to see this as much more than political point-scoring for everybody involved, but what should we expect when the current government avoids an answer?


  1. Media Researcher

    On 4 Aug 09, the Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA) welcomed the promise of the Coalition Government that they would immediately allocate digital spectrum and $10 million in funding support to capital city Community Television stations. This announcement came from Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Nick Minchin who “pledged” this support to the community television sector.

    However, the ACTA also notes that the sector’s current plight is the result of the previous Government’s (the Coalition) failure to provide a pathway to digital for Community TV when it was in office for the last 12 years. The Greens have always been supportive of the community broadcasting sector however has never announced any pledges of $10 million and digital spectrum and they also place the blame on the current government (Labor) of dragging their feet to allocate funding and a quick decision to allow simulcasts broadcasting prior to the analogue cut off date in 2013.

    Why is the Coalition so supportive now? It appears that the coalition finds the suffrage of the community television industry as a means to gain political clout. At present, holding a secondary role in the federal government only affords the community television industry with another empty promise from the shadow ministry, but what powers does the Shadow Ministry hold? The shadow government can offer a pledge commitment however this can only be activated if they are the primary government or either while also having a majority of representation in both houses of the federal parliament.

  2. TVS is a cool station. I don’t watch it all day, in fact I don’t watch a lot tv but there is a need for niche tv and even more importantly a community based service like TVS. It’s not about trying to be a ratings winner but a chance for small groups outside main stream to have a vehicle to be seen. TVS needs to go digital and not left behind !

  3. Even so i dont watch Community TV my dad watches 1hr or so a week and even so i dont think its that important i think that it should go digital because it will give it a ‘level’ playing feild(number of viewers can reach) and the picture i hope will also be decent and onces it gets an EPG i think the number of viewers will grow, i can see alot of older people watching it unlike now when they most likely don’t know what C31, TVS and the rest of these channels are, and it will give Freeview something to talk about as well.

  4. I think community TV ceased to be relevant about 3 years ago with the advent of YouTube – there you can find local narrowcasters doing their thing without the cumbersome need for infrastructure or scheduling or any of those other things – the only hang up on YouTube is getting noticed – but then again, that seems to be a problem for community TV anyway!

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