Community TV lifeline: extended to 2016

Before resigning as Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull granted community TV extra time to remain on air.


In what appears to have been a parting gift from Malcolm Turnbull before he resigned as Communications Minister (to return as PM), he has granted Community TV broadcasters a further 12 months on broadcast television before they must switch to being online entities.

Channel 31 general manager Richard McLelland describes the news as a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Australia’s five community television stations recently received a letter from the Minister confirming an offer of a 12 month extension to the apparatus (transmitter) licence, which will allow CTV to remain on free-to-air television until December 31st, 2016,” he wrote in a statement.

“The C31 Board of Directors, along with the boards of the other four stations, and in conjunction with its member organisations, is currently considering the offer and its conditions and will formally respond at the appropriate time.”

The offer follows a concerted sector campaign and upholds the “extra time” they have been seeking, to put better business models in place before eventually moving online.

C31 Melbourne has also entered into a partnership with digital consultants and YouTube Enterprise Partners Totem ahead of the shift.

“Whilst free-to-air is currently its main platform C31 recognises that it must develop its online presence. Over the past eight months the C31 staff and board have been meeting and working with key players in the online video delivery services sector. Concurrently, C31 has employed the services of a key technology partner – Hostworks – who is now quickly developing brand new, platform agnostic content delivery methods for CTV,” he continued.

14 Responses

  1. “…will formally respond at the appropriate time.” With the GM of C31 stepping down last week and management of TVS also being made redundant last month, one can only draw the conclusion that there will be no FTA community television at year’s end. Yes? No? Who knows?

  2. What is the government planning to do with this 7MHz channel once they have dumped community TV?

    Why don’t they give the mux to the ABC so they can have ABC1 and ABC2 both in HD (one on each mux) ABC3, News24 and get them to carry the CTV as a multichannel? At the moment the CTV channels hog an entire 7MHz for a single SD channel which is a massive waste of bandwidth.

    1. CTV currently uses spectrum outside the 6 planned channels in the capital cities – there is currently no call on the spectrum used by CTV. The unused 6th channel was planned to be used for MPEG4 trials – this now looks unlikely as the industry preference is to jump to to HEVC DVB-T2 – these trials aren’t going to happen in the short term.

      Once the industry moves to HEVC as its standard, hey presto, more efficient use of spectrum enabling more HD channels for ABC and SBS, and more opportunities for a CTV type broadcaster to find a permanent home, perhaps even on commercial terms.

  3. Why haven’t Turnbull or the Dept made any public announcements? The CTV sector has had years (and multiple extensions) to transition and future proof their businesses, just like the rest of the media industry.

    1. The rest of the industry (i.e. Seven, Nine, Ten, ABC and SBS) haven’t been bullied into relinquishing their (still) dominant platform. And at the same time they have had generous concessions, licence rebates, anti-siphoning protection and access to spectrum over the last decade to allow them to make the transition to digital TV. Community TV got none of that level of assistance. It also gets no ongoing government funding, so the government saves nothing by shoving it to an online-only platform.

      If the rest of the FTA industry gets the same demands made of them than the Community TV sector then perhaps your point has merit.

  4. not such good news re government. According to my sources, In order to get the extension all ctv stations have to agree to leave willingly by dec 2016. If not the old dec 2015 deadline applies

    1. No they do not have any spare channels (which aren’t a real thing any more anyway). Nor do they have sufficient bandwidth to squeeze in another digital stream. ABC News 24 is already pretty crappy (only 720p), don’t want to make it worse.

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