Once again the Turnbull Government has granted Community Television (CTV) an eleventh hour reprieve, following a strong campaign from the CTV sector and repeated representations from Labor at both Federal and State levels.
Yesterday the Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, announced a six month extension for CTV broadcasters in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to remain on-air using the broadcasting spectrum.
This follows a similar last-ditch reprieve, at the end of 2016, following pressure from the CTV sector and Labor.
While the announcement yesterday is welcome, it exemplifies this Government’s lack of vision for the media and communications sector, their flawed decision-making and their inability to execute a plan.
- The internet was the best long-term distribution platform for CTV; and
- Spectrum needed to be vacated for the testing of new technologies like MPEG-4.
- The Government’s bungled rollout of their inferior copper NBN means decent internet connectivity continues to elude many Australians; and
- Commercial and national broadcasters have adopted MPEG-4 and any plans for future testing remain unconfirmed.
I have been calling on Government to give the CTV sector the time they need to transition to an internet-only distribution model for over two years now. A successful transition is win/win for Government, the CTV sector and the Australian public, yet the Government stymies an orderly transition by meting out short extensions and denying certainty.
With this latest six month stay of execution for CTV, Senator Fifield demonstrates the Turnbull Government’s disregard for the objects of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the important role CTV plays in promoting the diversity of broadcasting services and programming material available to the Australian public.