The Australian Community Television Alliance (ACTA) welcomes the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to the continuation of community television.
The Hon. Michelle Rowland MP, Shadow Minister for Communications, today announced the ALP will keep Channel 31 Melbourne (C31) and Channel 44 Adelaide (C44) on air beyond the forced termination of community TV licences scheduled for June 2024.
“Community television is a vibrant part of Australia’s media, which is why Labor has fought attempts by the Liberal National government to boot it off air,” Ms Rowland said. “Community TV adds to media diversity, local news and content, supports local businesses and community organisations and provides a much-needed training ground for the journalists, producers and the industry talent of the future.”
This presents a significant shift from the position of the current Federal Government, which, since 2013, has sought to take community TV off free-to-air television. This has caused continued uncertainty, which became unsustainable for community TV stations around the country, forcing stations in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth to close.
In June 2021, remaining stations C31 and C44 achieved another late reprieve from switch-off at the end of that month, following substantial pressure by independent Rebekha Sharkie MP and Labor’s Senator Marielle Smith and Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland MP.
In November 2020, the Federal Government proposed media reforms including a restack of all existing broadcast spectrum, aiming to repurpose community TV spectrum by June 2024. ACTA gained substantial support for its push to stay on air at least until its spectrum was repurposed and, in June 2021, an amendment to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 was passed, granting C31 and C44 ‘last and final’ extensions to their broadcast licences until 30 June 2024.
With no progress on those proposed media reforms to date, ACTA maintains that community TV should be allowed to continue broadcasting beyond 2024.
“‘This announcement from the Labor party today finally provides the community TV sector an opportunity for certainty and a long-term future. It also reaffirms the important and vital service that community TV provides,” C44 general manager Lauren Hillman said.
C31 general manager Shane Dunlop added, “There is incredible potential for the future of community TV in Australia. With the possibility of further certainty around free-to-air spectrum access and with the impending release of smart-device apps for the community TV streaming service CTV+, we believe that community TV can continue to be a solid contributor to the Australian media landscape for many years to come.”