MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
INCONSISTENT MINISTER EXPOSED ON COMMUNITY TV
Revelations that the Minister for Communications and the Arts is preparing to extend the licence for Channel 44 Adelaide but not Channel 31 Melbourne and Geelong leave his arguments against extending local community television licences in tatters.
Reports of a Federal Government “deal” to save C44, but not C31, prove this Minister puts political self-interest ahead of the public interest.
Neither the Minister, nor his Department, nor the ACMA can identify a planned alternative use for the radiofrequency spectrum these stations now occupy.
Only this week, the Government released a Radiocommunications Reform package that identifies the use of spectrum for community purposes as a key objective and talks up the need for greater flexibility – yet the Minister undermines these goals by refusing the extend the licences for community TV.
What’s more, the Minister is ignoring Victorian interests. Answers to Questions on Notice confirm that Gladys Liu MP, Senator Jane Hume and (then) Sarah Henderson MP all made representations to the Minister on behalf of C31.
Over the past seven years, the Liberals have vandalised Community TV. Malcolm Turnbull’s short-sighted plan to send CTV to an online-only model of delivery precipitated the closure of stations in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and now threatens the two remaining stations in Melbourne and Adelaide.
The impact of COVID-19 makes a successful transition by local community TV stations to an online-only model impossible at this time.
The only fair and efficient thing to do is extend both licences so C31 and C44 can continue delivering benefits by serving their communities on-air, at least until an alternative use of the spectrum is ready to be deployed.
FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 2020