Channel 31 is set to cease broadcasting on 30 June, 2020 as its license is unlikely to be renewed.
Melbourne’s not-for-profit television station has had an integral part to play in the development of the community both as an alternative to mainstream media and as a means for those who are not usually able to access important information.
Back in March 2020, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher made clear to Community Television (CTV) stations C44 Adelaide and C31 Melbourne and Geelong that he would not consider renewing their free-to-air broadcast licences beyond the current deadline of June 30th without giving further information regarding the decision.
The idea was first introduced in 2014 by-then Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, as a plan to vacate CTV stations’ broadcast spectrum and introducing a strictly online delivery model.
Read more: Hard times for community network Channel 31
The stations have been fighting the Federal Government decision since, having endured six years of uncertainty with six short-term licence renewals. Sydney (TVS), Brisbane (Bris31) and more recently Perth (WTV) have seen their community channels close with C31 Melbourne and C44 Adelaide the last ones open.
“Like many businesses, we are in survival mode,” said C31 Melbourne General Manager Shane Dunlop.
“We are being asked to make a monumental and challenging digital transition work in unprecedented times. It’s an unreasonable and impossible request.”
“We are proud to be able to support our local communities through this challenging period,” added C44 Adelaide Acting General Manager Kristen Hamill.
“There are many Australians that don’t have access to the internet, and our local broadcasts provide an essential service to keep people connected, comforted and informed.”
Both stations have formally requested MrFletcher for a renewal of broadcast licences through the pandemic as closure would see immediate job losses of more than 15 full time staff, the let go of over 200 weekly volunteers and insolvency for both businesses.
Neither station has received a response.
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