With less than 1 day until switch off, thanks to the political advocacy of Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie, Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher has confirmed a 12-month free to air licence extension for Channel 44 Adelaide with a condition that the station ceases broadcast on July 1, 2021.
ADELAIDE, 30 June, 2020 – A sixth last-minute extension is a welcome relief for Channel 44 staff, volunteers, program makers and the wider Adelaide community whose support has been unwavering over the last six months as the Community Television sector fought to retain their free to air broadcast licences. A 12-month extension has also been granted to sister station C31 Melbourne & Geelong.
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie said, “Channel 44 is well-loved, well watched and highly valued by our community, especially our older people who do not watch programs using internet devices. I recognise that community television has been given notice that they must move online but given the Government has not allocated the broadcast spectrum currently being used by Channel 44, a further extension is entirely reasonable and very welcome.”
“We are very relieved for this 12-month extension as it reconfirms the importance of the Community TV sector, said General Manager Lauren Hillman. “The news that Melbourne has also received another 12 months is tremendous as it strengthens our sector and allows us to focus and collaborate on a national online platform over the next year. We are extremely appreciative of the support we’ve received over the past six years, we could not have made it this far without the advocacy of Federal and State Government representatives.
The 12-month extension provides additional certainty for broadcast partners and will allow time for Channel 44 to educate their older audiences how to access content online.
“Our religious and cultural broadcasts have been essential during COVID-19, particularly to older South Australians who do not have easy access to the internet,” said C44 Development & Strategy Manager Kristen Hamill. “We will be working closely with these groups to help increase their digital literacy and find their favourite Channel 44 programs online. We are also thrilled to be continuing our university partnerships in a broadcast world, providing invaluable training and pathways to industry for our interns and volunteers.”
Channel 44 recognises the past six months have seen unprecedented political support across all parties for Community TV. On June 10, a motion was passed unopposed in the Senate in support of Community Television. On June 18, a motion was also passed in the South Australian Parliament in support of Channel 44.
The station extends their sincere gratitude for the advocacy and support from;
Centre Alliance: Rebekha Sharkie MP
Australian Labour Party: Shadow Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland, Senator Penny Wong, Senator Marielle Smith, Amanda Rishworth MP, Jayne Stinson MP, Emily Bourke MLC
Australian Greens: Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Adam Bandt MP, Tammy Franks MLC
Liberal Party of Australia: Senator Simon Birmingham
Adelaide City Council: Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor, Councillor Robert Simms
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall
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Development & Strategy Manager
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Channel 44 is Adelaide’s community media broadcaster, providing a free to air and online platform for local community groups and content creators. C44 actively engages with local South Australian communities, businesses and events to help promote and showcase the best of what our state has to offer. C44 provides industry training opportunities for more than 40 volunteers per week.
Community TV free-to-air broadcast licences were first threatened to be revoked in 2014, when former Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull announced that community TV stations around Australia would need to operate online-only from the end of 2015. Since then, a series of last-minute licence extensions have kept C44 Adelaide, and their Melbourne counterparts, on air but operating under increasingly difficult circumstances. C31 in Brisbane, TVS in Sydney and recently WTV Perth have all folded under the pressures of licence uncertainty.
The rationale for moving community TV stations off free-to-air was that the broadcast spectrum was needed to trial new technology. With the exception of recent technology trials on the now-vacant Sydney spectrum, this has not yet transpired in other cities. Information provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority suggests that this technology will not be ready for market for a number of years.