MEDIA RELEASE - COMMUNITY TV PREVAILS OVER TURNBULL'S POOR JUDGEMENT - 2 JUNE 2018

Labor welcomes the two year licence extension for Community Television (CTV) broadcasters in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, despite the eleventh hour nature of the reprieve.

Labor congratulates and pays tribute to these CTV broadcasters, their staff and volunteers, for prevailing in the face of years of uncertainty caused by Malcolm Turnbull's poor judgement and Liberal Government policy confusion and inaction.

Labor has made repeated representations in support of the CTV sector.  At last the government has finally accepted reality when it comes to the value of CTV, the use of the spectrum and Malcolm Turnbull's poor judgement.

Almost four years ago, in September 2014, Malcolm Turnbull announced that the future of Community TV was online, giving the sector just over a year to transition their operations, staff, volunteers, sponsors and viewers to an internet-only delivery model.

Turnbull went so far as to say that moving CTV to an online platform was "especially good news for regional Australia" as it would "allow CTV to reach new audiences who have otherwise not had access to CTV to date".

Not only did these pronouncements show up Turnbull's inadequate grasp of technological platforms, broadband availability and transitional policy, it showed a complete lack of understanding of community.

Not only did the man who supposedly invented the internet saddle Australians with a second-rate copper NBN, he mistakenly saw the online platform as a replacement for, rather than complementary to, the broadcast platform in Australia.

Turnbull cited "the internet" as the reason to boot CTV off air, as well as the reason to junk the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule - completely misunderstanding the strength of the linear broadcast platform.

But Turnbull didn't just misunderstand technology.  He misunderstood the concept of community and the importance of localism too.

What's more, this erstwhile 'innovation' champion misunderstood the vital role of CTV in fostering innovation and talent in the content industry.

The broadcasting platform is stable, free and ubiquitous and accessible to all. It is an anchor for communities and CTV serves as a distinct and diverse voice in Australia's otherwise highly concentrated media landscape.

So blinded by his own brilliance, time and time again Turnbull has misjudged the correct way forward when it comes to communications and media policy in Australia - and time and time again, Australians have paid the price.

Not every CTV broadcaster survived the uncertainty wrought by Turnbull’s misguided 2014 decree, to the great detriment of the sector and the wider community.  Labor condemns the Liberal Government for its twin bungling of the CTV migration and the NBN rollout, as well as its direct assault on media diversity with the repeal of the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule.

Labor wishes the remaining participants in the CTV sector all the very best as they work to rebuild their financial health to serve their communities.