The Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP has announced that community TV channels C31 in Melbourne and Channel 44 in Adelaide will be granted a 12-month extension in their free-to-air broadcast licences.
The Minister announced the extension during ABC‘s Q&A program ahead of an official announcement to come tomorrow.
The two channels were set to cease transmission on 30 June 2020, following a two-year extension to the Government’s demand that they go off air.
While a 12-month extension is great news for the sector — and no doubt a result from a groundswell of support — it seems cruel that the two channels were left to literally the last day of broadcast before getting this news, and as some programs and sponsorships were already being wound up amid uncertainty for the future.
There is also no valid reason why the operators can’t be granted an ongoing broadcast channel. There is no planned use for the UHF spectrum that these channels occupy, and there has been no replacement use for the frequencies that the Sydney, Brisbane and Perth channels used before going off-air.