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Motion: Channel 44 Community Television 2

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T. A. Franks:

That this council—

1. Congratulates Adelaide's community TV media broadcaster, Channel 44, for covering South Australian stories, social and cultural activities, showcasing talent and creating employment and hands-on training opportunities for the local screen sector for the past 15 years;

2. Expresses concern that, while community television has always been self-funded, the past six years of instability caused by both short-term and often last-minute extensions on their licence have made Channel 44's financial stability and forward planning unduly challenging;

3. Expresses disappointment that the federal government intends to switch off community television in Australia from 30 June this year;

4. Notes that allowing continued access to the spectrum comes at no budgetary cost and that no alternative use has been planned for the spectrum but that, without an ongoing and stable free-to-air licence, Channel 44's partnerships and training opportunities will be lost; and

5. Maintains that there is significant public benefit to Channel 44's continuance on the local airwaves and urges the Federal Minister for Communications to urgently provide a five-year commitment to the spectrum, while it is not in use, for Channel 44 so that South Australia can keep local TV.

 

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I thank those speakers who have made a contribution: the Hon. Tung Ngo, the Hon. Jing Lee, the Hon. Frank Pangallo and the Hon. Emily Bourke. I also note the contributions of the member for Badcoe; the federal member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie; the member for Kingston, Amanda Rishworth; senators for South Australia, Marielle Smith and Penny Wong; as well as many others who have seen strong support for community TV in South Australia and in Victoria, the only two states where it is now left.

We know that the spectrum will be lost to community TV in just 13 short days. We also know that, since I introduced this motion, we have seen the Senate pass unopposed a motion calling for the minister to extend the licences of our last surviving community broadcasters. Our own station in South Australia, Adelaide's Channel 44, is fighting for survival. It is looking for stability. It has been given six years of stop-start unstable offers that have not allowed them to set up and keep the sustainability that they need that will indeed endanger their contracts with various academic and other institutions when they, for no apparent reason, are denied access to the spectrum.

When minister Turnbull made this decision, he said he had other uses. We are yet to hear any other use put forward from the current federal minister, yet with the stroke of a pen we are going to lose a substantial conglomeration of community talent, opportunity and expertise. I know Jethro Heller, who has sent 40 video messages to the minister because, as quoted by the Hon. Frank Pangallo, he does not answer other forms of messages.

I urge the Premier perhaps to try TikTok. Maybe if phone calls, pleadings and letters do not work, perhaps TikTok or an Instagram video would because that is all that will be left for South Australians in the screen industry at the local community level. You are telling them to go to Facebook and to use the digital world when you are withdrawing the spectrum at no cost to the South Australian taxpayer but significant cost to the South Australian community.

In this digital era and the screen era, we should be investing in pathways into these industries and connections that are local in this global village in which we live. We should be keeping community television strong, stable and supported and celebrate it having a long and fruitful future, rather than mourning the fact that it has only 13 days to go.

I support the Hon. Frank Pangallo's amendment to the motion, and in addition to a letter from the President of the Legislative Council, I hope that a TikTok video from the Premier might be on its way to the minister. I indicate to the government that, given their amendment seeks to replace my original motion's provisions, I cannot support it. I find it offensive that you would replace the motion with one of your own that mourns the loss of community television instead of standing up and fighting for community television in South Australia.

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