Keep metropolitan Community TV on air (six more months to achieve this!)

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WE call upon the Minister for Communications to reverse the decision regarding the withdrawal of broadcast licences for Community TV in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Secondly if these groups are to lose their access to the sixth-channel spectrum that a free to air alternative is found.

There are 55 Community TV broadcasting licences in Australia, two of which of which are trial ones for Adelaide and Perth. Of these 51 are remote Indigenous broadcasting services while the other two services were in Brisbane and
Melbourne.

In late 2014, then Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull announced that the metropolitan licences (Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth & Adelaide) would not be renewed so that "In the short term (from 2016) sixth-channel spectrum will be used to assist free-to-air broadcasters in the migration to MPEG-4." The turn off date has since been extended to December 31st of this year. Turnbull thought these stations moving to the internet would be "a better fit". Naturally this spectrum will be sold for as Turnbull said,"... we must allocate this scarce public resource efficiently".

Ironically this scarce public resource has stretched much further since the move to digital broadcasting. Free to air TV can now offer 3 or 4 channels but somehow we no longer have any room for us to be broadcasters! At least not in TV.

Commercial free to air TV has recently launched a campaign to convince Australia that we need free to air but obviously only if it is about making money. Tthe Broadcast Services Act 1992 87A (1) states "It is the intention of the Parliament that services provided under CTV licences be regulated in a manner that causes them not to operate in the same way as commercial television broadcasting services." With these services being shoved online they will not necessarily need to be regulated but more importantly Asutralia will lose an alternative to commercial and public broadcasting.

ACMA research shows that the vast majority of Australians (96%) watch TV as opposed to using other viewing devices and that those who opt for the latter are more likely to be under 24. Therefore it is older Australians who will be disadvantaged through not being able to simply turn their TV on and tune into their local community channel.

Finally it is disappointing that ACMA was not directed by the Minister to conduct an investigation into this issue so that the wider community could be consulted and express their views.

All communities in Australia should have equal access to local Community TV broadcasting!



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