Some common sense prevails… for a while anyway.
Community TV stations C31 Melbourne and 44 Adelaide have managed to secure a further three-year extension to their free-to-air broadcast licences.
The decision, granted by the Federal Government, comes just days before both channels were scheduled to go off-air following the previous 12-month extension granted last year.
The campaign to save the community TV sector was supported by members across multiple political parties, as well as Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece.
The full announcement from C31:
NEWSFLASH: COMMUNITY TV STATIONS WIN THREE YEAR EXTENSION
With less than seven days until switch off, an amendment to broadcast legislation was passed in the Australian Senate overnight and confirmed in the House of Representatives today, providing an extension of three more years of free to air broadcast access to Community TV stations C31 Melbourne and Geelong & Channel 44 Adelaide, through to June 30, 2024.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
The Australian Community Television 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 MP, 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 Greens MLC, Adam Bandt – Australian Greens
Rod Barton MP – Transport Matters Party
Minister Luke Donnellan MP, Minister Ros Spence MP, Minister Danny Pearson MP for Essendon – 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
Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians – Commission for Senior Victorians