Community TV faces uncertain future in Victoria

By Our Reporter
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Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Bruce Atkinson MLC, has launched a petition in support of community television in Victoria and their bid to stay on free-to-air TV.

C31 Melbourne and Geelong is Victoria’s self-funding, not-for-profit community television service, watched by more than one million people every month.

The station provides access and representation to Victoria’s diverse communities, special interest groups, independent producers, industry newcomers, and tertiary students as part of their course work in Film & TV and journalism degrees.

It also provides Victoria’s multicultural communities, which represent 28.4% of the state’s population, with a platform to express themselves and to share their cultures and lifestyles.

“Victoria is renowned for its multiculturalism. The cultural diversity within our community has been pivotal to our identity and success as a state and is one of our greatest assets and strengths,” said Hon Bruce Atkinson, MLC Victoria, and Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region.

Established in the 1990s, C31 has steadily and successfully grown but is now facing an increasingly uncertain future.

Given there is no pressing need for C31 to vacate spectrum for several more years, Mr Atkinson is supporting the station’s request for a longer-term extension to its transmitter licence.

“The unique benefits of community TV, and in particular, C31’s significant contribution to promoting harmony, diversity, cross-cultural understanding and community participation cannot be underestimated. In Victoria’s interests, I am hoping the new Federal Minister for Communications will support C31’s request for an extension to their free-to-air transmitter licence until at least 2024, which would align with the station’s broadcast licence,”  he said.

In 2014, community TV stations were required to vacate spectrum to enable an industry transition to more efficient broadcast technologies. Five years on, the transition has not occurred and remains a distant proposition. Indeed, community TV stations maintain that if switched off on current timelines, their spectrum will remain vacant until at least 2024.

Since the 2014 announcement, C31 has been fighting to keep its free-to-air access and to remain financially viable.

It has worked with the Government to secure several transmitter licence extensions, but the continued uncertainty around C31’s longer-term operation has had significant financial repercussions with advertising revenues falling sharply.

The station is working hard to develop new ways of operating, and in particular, understanding the complexities of delivering services online.

This extended period will enable a period of stability for the station to return to financial health and to continue to develop and invest in modernised business and operating models.

Mr Atkinson has served the community as a Member of the Victorian Parliament for more than 27 years and was President of the Legislative Council between 2010 and 2018. He is well-known for his advocacy of cultural and social diversity in Victoria.


To find out more, or to sign the petition, go to www.bruceatkinson.com.au and click on petitions

 

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