MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
10 DAYS LEFT TO SAVE COMMUNITY TV
In 10 days the licences for local community television stations Channel 31 Melbourne and Geelong and Channel 44 Adelaide will expire.
The Minister for Communications and the Arts has a choice: extend the licences to enable a vibrant mix of local content on TV, or do nothing and leave screens blank.
Unfortunately Paul Fletcher prefers nothing to something.
According to the Minister’s ill-advised response during Question Time this month, he thinks leaving valuable radiofrequency spectrum unused is a virtue and is more enthused about the U.S. YouTube platform than domestic broadcasting.
The Government is sticking with a 2014 brainwave by Malcolm Turnbull to kick Community TV off-air, despite the fact the impact of COVID-19 makes a successful transition to an online-only model impossible at this time.
The Government is only too happy to grant itself extensions when it needs to. The spectrum reform process commenced by Malcolm Turnbull in 2014 stalled and, instead of introducing legislation in 2016 as planned, the Department has extended the timeframe to 2020 at the earliest.
The Minister’s refusal to extend the licences for C31 and C44, when neither he nor his Department nor the ACMA can identify a planned alternative use for the spectrum, runs counter to the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
The Minister should drop his weak excuses and extend the licences immediately.
SUNDAY, 21 JUNE 2020