Community TV given 3 year extension

Channels 31 & 44 given another extension in govt backflip.

With less than seven days until switch off Community TV broadcasters Channel 31 Melbourne and Channel 44 Adelaide have been granted a 3 years extension to their licence.

An amendment to broadcast legislation was passed in the Australian Senate overnight and confirmed in the House of Representatives today, providing three more years of free to air broadcast access to Community TV stations C31 Melbourne & C44 Adelaide, through to June 30, 2024.

It follows a last minute backflip in June 2020 just 24 hours before a transition to an online only model.

“This will give the two community television licensees more time to transition to online platforms,” Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said.

“Moving to online platforms will vacate the spectrum in time for appropriate testing, planning and transition requirements ahead of any reallocation.”

In a statement, C31 said, “A renewal term of three years is a welcome relief for C31 Melbourne staff, volunteers, program makers and the wider community whose support has been unwavering over the past seven years as the Community Television sector has continued to fight to retain their free to air broadcast licences. This decision ensures that Community Television’s valuable contribution to the wider arts industry can continue until at least 30 June 2024 and assists the sector in building its financial and digital capacity to continue broadcasting to audiences around the country.”

C31 Melbourne General Manager Shane Dunlop says, “It is with great pride and considerable relief that we announce today’s news. A licence renewal of three years will finally provide Community TV stations with the stability we have gone without for almost a decade. We are glad that common sense has prevailed, and we look forward to the next three years, continuing our 27-year tradition of providing an accessible, vibrant, and important service to Melbourne’s diverse communities and beyond.”

C31 Melbourne Chair Mike Zafiropoulos AM continued, “The C31 board would like to acknowledge the efforts of our wonderful staff, producers and program makers over the last few months. We have also been overwhelmed by the showing of public support and are heartened by the collective resolve to fight for a positive outcome for Community Television in Victoria. Thank you.”

C44 General Manager Lauren Hillman added, “This is a huge win for the Community TV sector in Adelaide and Melbourne and we are honoured to be recognised and valued by the Australian Senate. The power of community should never be underestimated, and we are so very grateful for all the support across the board which has resulted in this fantastic outcome for the Community TV sector.”

ALP Senator Marielle Smith said, “Taking community TV off air was a destructive and wasteful decision – it costs the Government nothing for them to keep broadcasting, and there’s no plans to use the spectrum for years. This result is an admission that the Government got it wrong, and a huge win for our community and for the Community TV stations.”

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie MP, who was instrumental in the negotiation to provide Community TV with this lengthy renewal said, “I would like to thank Communications Minister Paul Fletcher for listening to our community and our valid arguments for keeping C44 and C31 on air and working with me to draft an amendment to set this timeframe in legislation. I would like to sincerely thank Senator Rex Patrick for putting up my amendment in the Senate when my Centre Alliance colleague Senator Stirling Griff had to take a leave of absence. The amendment does set a clear deadline for 2024 but this will allow C44 & C31 to work through the Media Reform Green Paper process and give the station sufficient time to really plan its future.”

Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said, “Labor is proud to have backed community TV every step of the way. We moved a successful motion in the Senate, made representations in the House, and moved an amendment to keep to keep community TV on air until there is an alternative use for the spectrum. This Government’s inept handling of community TV has caused needless uncertainty for the sector, contributed to the closure of stations in other capital cities and constitutes an act of vandalism in the Communications Portfolio. Labor congratulates the community TV sector staff, producers and volunteers for their strong campaign and ongoing advocacy to #KeepTVLocal.”

The Australian Community TV Alliance (ACTA) recognises the last seven years have seen unprecedented political support across all parties for Community TV.

C31 Melbourne also extend their sincere gratitude for the advocacy and support from;

Senator Marielle Smith, Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland, Amanda Rishworth MP – Australian Labor Party
Rebekha Sharkie MP – Centre Alliance
Senator Rex Patrick – Independent
Senator Simon Birmingham – Liberal Party of Australia
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Tammy Franks MLC, Adam Bandt MP – Australian Greens Minister Luke Donnellan, Minister Ros Spence, Minister Danny Pearson – Victorian Labor Party
Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece – City of Melbourne Commissioner Viv Nguyen, Deputy Commissioner Bwe Thay – Victorian Multicultural Commission
Commissioner Gerard Mansour – Commission for Senior Victorians

10 Responses

  1. If l was a FTA l would abandon my Infomercial channel and add these guys. Seriously who watches these shopping channels anyway?? If your like me you program the TV to skip these channels. My eyes dont even see them. A FTA can charge these community broadcasters a fee and maybe a % of any revenue they make. An online model would spell the death of both of the last remaining channels.

  2. They won’t move to an online model. Too many vested interests at both stations to keep the status quo. We will be back here again in 3 years with the same complaints from the same people.

  3. There would not have been much reason to not provide the extension as the spectrum would not be used in the interim, or there would have been impetus to allocate the unused spectrum for other services.

    I’d like to suggest Channel 31 and Channel 44 be added nationally on the digital free-to-air spectrum if possible, or on Freeview live, as well as parliamentary broadcasts or other community channel services that could at least be added to Freeview live if the digital TV broadcast spectrum is limited.

    It would also facilitate the aiding of transitioning to entirely online services by adding C31 and C44 to Freeview if the situation requires the transitioning after the three year extension when the issue returns for assessment by the end of the extension.

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