Community TV Faces Uncertain Future in Victoria
To the Honorable President and Members of the Senate assembled:
The petition of the residents of Victoria draws to the attention of the Senate, the unique benefits of community TV, and in particular, Channel 31's significant contribution to promoting harmony, diversity, cross-cultural understanding and community participation in Victoria.
Channel 31 Melbourne and Geelong (C31) is Victoria's self-funding, not-for-profit community television service, watched by over one million people every month.
The station provides access and representation to Victoria's diverse communities, special interest groups and independent producers, and is a vital training vehicle for industry newcomers and tertiary students.
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 views, cultures and lifestyles.
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.
Since the 2014 announcement, C31 has been fighting to secure its access to free-to-air TV and to remain financially viable. The station has secured a number of short-term transmitter licence renewals, but this has created an environment of uncertainty and has impacted C31's ability to generate income, mainly from its primary revenue source, advertising.
The petitioners, therefore, request the Senate call on the Morrison Government and the Federal Minister for Communications to authorise a minimum five-year extension to C31's transmitter licence and enable a period of stability for the station to return to financial health and to continue to develop modernised broadcasting and business models.
The petition will close on 31 October 2019.