South Australia’s Upper House is calling on the federal Government to extend community television licences before the state’s own Channel 44, one of Australia’s last surviving community broadcasters, is switched off at the end of the month. Greens Member of Legislative Council Tammy Franks brought the motion to a vote on Wednesday while highlighting the unique jobs, internship opportunities and local coverage that would be lost if Channel 44 couldn’t continue to occupy the spectrum. The federal Senate passed an unopposed motion a week earlier, also urging the federal Minister for Communications to stop Channel 44 and Victorian broadcaster Channel 31 from being forced off air.
Channels 44 and 31 are self-funded not-for-profit organisations that can continue at no cost to the taxpayer. But the federal Government still plans to switch off community television on 30th June.
Australia’s community broadcasters have faced instability caused by six years of short-term renewals, forcing all but the South Australian and Victorian stations to close. With no set plan for the occupied spectrum, locals could be left with up to five years of white noise in their place.
Channel 44 hosts 140 internships a year and 11 programs that contribute to tertiary institution coursework. It works with UniSA, Flinders University and other training and employment agencies to create opportunities for students to gain experience in the screen industry – the only opportunities of their kind in South Australia.
Channels 44 and 31 often support each other as sister stations and have joined forces on the #KeepLocalTV campaign, including videos reflecting the same atmosphere of community connectedness typically emulated in their content. The campaign calls for content creators and supporters to write to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher or local MPs, sign the online petition, and share campaign posts on social media.
Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:
“Yet again Paul Fletcher and the Coalition Government are showing complete disregard for their responsibility to the media, arts and entertainment industries. Industries that are not only heavily impacted by the current COVID-19 and economic crises, but also heavily relied on to communicate key information.
“There’s absolutely no reason to keep threatening our local television. It promotes our businesses, communities, news, and history. It provides education and training opportunities. It produces entertainment tailored to local viewers, some of which also receives international recognition. It costs the taxpayer nothing.
The Minister has one job here: to sign off on the paperwork and let them continue.”
Media Contact: Tammy Franks – 0457 549 938