Melbourne’s leading ethnic community radio station is holding an open round table meeting on Monday 20 July at the 3ZZZ headquarters to prevent the media’s gradual privatisation.

Radio 3ZZZ is the largest ethnic community station in Australia. It started broadcasting on a regular basis in June 1989 and is located at 92.3 on the FM radio band. Working from studios in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, it broadcasts 24 hours a day and has built a strong weekly audience of 400,000 listeners in Victoria. In October 2000 the station extended its reach through internet broadcasting and now can be heard across Australia and the rest of the world.

The purpose of this emergency gathering is to prevent the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF) – the independent national body designed to secure and distribute Government funds for community broadcasting – from “replacing the elected board with an appointed one.” says George Zangalis, the Greek programs representative.

“It is important to support the prevalence of our elective structure,” he adds, saying “such a decision would result in a significant reduction of funding for ethnic programs for the likes of 92.3 FM.”

“The abashment of our democratic system, which has ensured for over 40 years that funds for ethnic broadcasting goes to ethnic broadcasters and their stations, must be prevented,” he adds.

The producers at 3ZZZ are worried that this radical departure from transparent procedures will transform the CBF from its traditional role of seeking government funds to promote the interests of the community to one of dictating policies in the style of the private corporate sector.

At the moment there are more than 5,000 financial members from nearly 63 ethnic groups affiliated with the station. All the major ethnic communities living in Melbourne are represented, with up to 400 volunteers broadcast in 70 languages.

“Ethnic community broadcasting is not only a major multilingual media but an important multicultural institution,” Zangalis stresses.

“Our ethnic communities have invested immensely in hard volunteer work, life long commitment and dedication which we don’t want to commercialise. “