|Broadcast area||Melbourne, Geelong, surrounding areas|
|Slogan||We are Melbourne & Geelong|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV) 16:9|
|Owner||Melbourne Community Television Consortium|
|Launched||6 October 1994|
42 (South Yarra)
C31 Melbourne is a free-to-air community television channel in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its name is derived from UHF 31, the frequency and channel number reserved for analogue broadcasts by metropolitan community television stations in Australia.
The station began broadcasting officially on 6 October 1994. The Australian Broadcasting Authority had granted Melbourne Community Television Consortium (MCTC) with a temporary open-narrowcast licence on 5 March 1993. The framework of community television in Australia can be traced back to 1992, when the Government asked the ABA to conduct a trial of community television using the vacant sixth television channel 31. On 30 July 2004, the Australian Broadcasting Authority granted the station a full-time community broadcasting licence.
C31 began broadcasting in digital during June 2010.
C31 is primarily funded through sponsorship, grants, sale of airtime and member donations. The station does not receive any regular Government funding.The annual revenue of C31 is approximately (AUD) $2 million per year. For comparison, the Nine Network, an Australian commercial station, has $907 million annual revenue. The station claims that "1.4 million Melbournians tune in each month" this figure is supplied by the ratings company OzTam. Individual programs can have ratings of up to 180,000 viewers.
The C31 website was completely remodelled in 2009, and now offers streaming of every program they broadcast (if the producer consents).C31 Melbourne is the only community television broadcast in Australia which offers this.
C31 announced to its digital service provider and officially began simulcasting from 2010 on logical channel number 44. C31 officially started broadcasting in Digital on 28 May 2010with the official launch date on 11 June.
On 27 June 2010, the community TV programming was rebranded "C31" with new logo, identities, schedule and watermark.[ citation needed ]
On 1 March 2012, C31 ceased broadcasting its analogue signal, and became available only as logical digital channel 44.[ citation needed ]
In September 2014, Australian federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that licensing for community television stations would end in December 2015.In September 2015, Turnbull, then Prime Minister, announced an extension of the deadline to 31 December 2016.
C31, like other community television stations, started moving operations online, and began streaming its channel live on their website, allowing access to viewers outside of its traditional broadcast area. In April 2016, C31 became the first community station to offer a mobile app that offers live streaming and video on demand catch-up television.
The deadline was further extended twice at the last minute by Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, first to 30 June 2017,and later to 31 December 2017. Fifield made an additional extension to 30 June 2018 as part of the government's deal with the Nick Xenophon Team to garner support for large-scale media reforms in the Senate, while a further extension, announced on 1 June 2018, gave broadcasters an additional two years through 30 June 2020. In June 2020, they were given another 12-month extension. In June 2021, thanks to amendments tabled by South Australian Senator Rex Patrick, the station was given a three-year extension.
Its signal is transmitted from Mt. Dandenong and Como Centre, South Yarra, reaching much of the Greater Melbourne, Geelong and West Gippsland areas on free-to-air television.
C31 is available on digital via UHF 32 in Melbourne & Geelong and UHF 66 in South Yarra.
Prior to 1 March 2012, C31's signal was available in analog UHF at a lower power than Melbourne's other television stations (it was, for example, one quarter of SBS's output power). Nevertheless, viewers with good line-of-sight to the main transmitter on Mount Dandenong could receive a usable signal from as far away as Geelong, Castlemaine and Moe [ citation needed ].
C31 broadcasts a vast array of locally produced content including news, sport, youth, arts, and entertainment programmes. The station also features a substantial amount of local multicultural programming, celebrating Melbourne's ethnic diversity.
Fishcam is arguably C31's best-known programme. It was a pre-recorded broadcast of a fish tank located in the station's studios, set to music by independent artists.It used to be live, but the station got complaints from the ACMA when there was a dead fish floating on the top of the tank for several days. It was originally shown in place of a test pattern when the station had no programming available for broadcast. After it was discovered that Fishcam was reasonably popular, Fishcam became a scheduled show and was even listed in the TV guide. C31 has boasted that Fishcam is "very popular" and is so widely recognised in the Melbourne community that "many people know C31 as 'the fish station'."
The station has previously made VHS tapes of Fishcam available for purchase. After having its timeslot continually cut back over the years to make room for more traditional programming, Fishcam finally ceased broadcasting on 4 March 2007.On 13 October 2014 FishCam returned at the new time of 9pm hosted by Luis from Lessons with Luis. The return of FishCam coincides with the station's twentieth anniversary.
Many comedians, performing artists and producers worked at C31 before moving to mainstream television, these people include Rove McManus, Amy Parks, Greg Tingle, Hamish and Andy's Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, Adam Richard, Peter Helliar, Merrick and Rosso's Merrick Watts and Tim Ross, Jo Stanley, Darren Chau, Corinne Grant, Jamie McDonald, Tom Ballard, Tommy Little, Dave Thornton, Jess Harris, Anthony McCormack, Alex Tigani, Josh Schmidt and Kim Hope.
As early as 1929, two Melbourne commercial radio stations, 3UZ and 3DB were conducting experimental mechanical television broadcasts - these were conducted in the early hours of the morning, after the stations had officially closed down. In 1934 Dr Val McDowall at amateur station 4CM Brisbane conducted experiments in electronic television.
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