Channel 31, Melbourne and Geelong’s multicultural television network, is set to lose its broadcasting license next week, specifically on 30 June.
Federal Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher has announced that the station will not have its license renewed beyond that date, effectively forcing the network to shut down.
Mr Fletcher has been urging community networks to move towards an online platform for quite some time. This avenue, however, is not viable for them due to the difficulty of approaching advertisers and sponsors to secure the necessary funds required for them to continue broadcasting.
A recent statement was released by South Australia’s Channel 44 which is also facing similar difficulties. The announcement gives hope that it could be saved at the ’11th hour’, should the license be renewed for a further 12 months.
But this is not the case for Melbourne and Geelong’s community station, a fact that was confirmed to Neos Kosmos by its chairman Mike Zafiropoulos.
Mr Zafiropoulos pointed out that the reasoning behind this decision is that the air space taken up by the Adelaide network is not as necessary as the one that Channel 31 currently occupies, something that he describes as a poor excuse behind an action that will leave all multicultural communities in the state without a voice.
He went on to add that during the COVID-19 crisis, there were many people who turned to Channel 31 in order to get necessary information in their own language, something that they will no longer have access to from next week.
Many media networks have expressed their opposition in Mr Fletcher’s decision not to renew the network’s license, while both the station and Mr Zafiropoulos himself have sent letters towards the Minister of Communications and Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking them to reconsider, yet until now, there has been no official response.