Community television in Australia

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Community television in Australia is a form of free-to-air non-commercial citizen media in which a television station is owned, operated and/or programmed by a community group to provide local programming to its broadcast area. In principle, community television is another model of facilitating media production and involvement by private citizens and can be likened to public-access television in the United States and community television in Canada.[ citation needed ]

Contents

Each station is a not-for-profit entity and is subject to specific provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. A Code of Conduct, registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, provides additional regulation of the sector. The community television stations operate independently so they are technically not a network (in the commonly held definition of the term). However, some programs are broadcast on multiple stations in the group, and they do co-operate with each other in various ways. The stations act collectively through the Australian Community Television Alliance.[ citation needed ]

"Channel 31" is the colloquial name for metropolitan community-licensed television stations throughout Australia. The name originates from UHF 31, the frequency and channel number reserved for analogue broadcasts by metropolitan community television stations. By 2010, all stations were broadcasting in 576i standard definition on digital channel 44, since their analogue signals were switched off and replaced with digital.[ citation needed ]

History

In the early 1970s, the Australia Council worked together with various community groups to establish a number of video production centres that could be used to produce Australian television programs. Many people began using these production centres, as well as their own resources, to make television programs. It was still difficult for these programs to be screened on commercial or government-funded television. It has been suggested that this was because the programs were thought to be too short, long or different from the programs already showing. [1]

Whilst community radio stations were quickly established around Australia, community television took longer to develop. During 1984, a Perth-based community group unsuccessfully applied for a community television licence. In the late 1980s in Alice Springs, Imparja Television (now a commercial station) was established. In 1987, RMITV was set up by students at RMIT University in Melbourne. This became the first community television station to receive a test transmission permit.[ citation needed ]

In 1992, the Australian Government asked the ABA to conduct a trial of community television using the vacant sixth television channel (UHF 31 in capital cities). Community television services have been provided on a trial basis since 1994 under the open narrowcast 'class licence'. These licences are issued on the condition that they are used only for community and educational non-profit purposes and are held by broadcasters in most Australian capital cities.[ citation needed ]

In 2002, the legislation was changed to introduce new community television licences and in 2004 the first licences were issued in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane.[ citation needed ]

Decline

In September 2014, then Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull announced that all community television licences would end in December 2015. [2] Turnbull, now Prime Minister, later amended the deadline in September 2015 by one year, to 31 December 2016. [3] However, Television Sydney later ceased broadcasting on 20 December 2015. [4] The other stations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth had already started their shift to online services, but remained broadcasting.

The deadline was extended a number of times at the last minute by Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, first to 30 June 2017, [5] and later to 31 December 2017. [6] An additional extension to 30 June 2018 was made as part of the government's deal with the Nick Xenophon Team to garner support for large-scale media reforms in the Senate. [7] [8] However, by that point, 31 Digital had already ceased broadcasting on 27 February. [9] A further extension, announced on 1 June 2018, gave broadcasters an additional two years through 30 June 2020. [10]

On the deadline date of 31 June 2020, following further negotiations with the two remaining community stations Channel 44 and C31 Melbourne, Fifield again extended the deadline for an additional 12 months to 30 June 2021. [11]

In June 2021, Channel 44 and C31 Melbourne were given a three-year extension, thanks to amendments tabled by South Australian Senator Rex Patrick. [12] [13]

Video on Demand

In 2017, Brisbane's 31 Digital attempted a video on demand service called Queensland Online TV, [14] but was unsuccessful and the service went offline within a year. A second attempt, re-branded as Hitchhike TV was created in 2018 streaming linear programming in short blocks from their website. However, this service was also unsuccessful and went offline in 2020. Newcastle station Hunter TV and Perth station West TV ceased free-to-air transmissions in 2017 and 2020 respectively, but have both attempted video-on-demand presences on Youtube and from their websites. [15] [16] [17]

On 12 August 2021, both C31 Melbourne and 44 Adelaide together with Film Victoria launched a new online streaming service, CTV+. [18] [19] The CTV+ platform allows viewers to stream both channels linearly, or watch programmes on demand.

Licensing

Australia has a special type of broadcasting licence for community television which is available via free-to-air terrestrial reception. Holders of a community television licence must conform to various rules, primarily relating to advertising and to a lesser extent, program content. They are licensed by, and regulated by, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).[ citation needed ]

In the strictest sense of the term, Australian community television is the officially licensed stations and their programming. However, there are a number of stations and distributors that release similar content - but they are not subject to government regulation.[ citation needed ]

Community support

Community television programs are most often made by amateurs about their own communities and special and diverse interests. In other cases, companies produce the programs. The sector is represented by the Australian Community Television Alliance.[ citation needed ]

Community television is funded by a mixture of sponsorship, subscriptions and donations, membership fees, grants, merchandise sales and sale of air time to program providers. It receives no regular national government funding. Many programs are paid for by the producers themselves.[ citation needed ]

The audience reach was over five million Australians, based on surveys research and ratings between 2001 and 2004.[ citation needed ]

The Antenna Awards, recognising outstanding community television programs, were established in 2004 and were awarded annually until 2010. They are traditionally hosted at a gala awards ceremony at Federation Square in Melbourne by C31 Melbourne, and have been revived twice – once in 2014, and again in 2019.[ citation needed ]

A special emphasis of community television is the provision of programs in an increasing range of community languages and about community cultures. Over twenty languages groups, many from newly migrant and refugee communities, are broadcast regularly by the community television stations. Australian Community Television producers are often also producers of other community media, wuch as the Student Youth Network.[ citation needed ]

Stations

DVB name LCN Launch dateNotes
C31 Melbourne 446 Oct 1994Broadcast in Melbourne, Geelong and surrounding areas. Originally broadcast on UHF 31 until 2010.
Channel 44 4423 Apr 2004Broadcast in Adelaide and surrounding areas. Originally broadcast on UHF 31 until 2010.

Defunct stations

Analogue-only stations
Channel name UHF Launch dateDiscontinued dateNotes
CTV 41 Bendigo 4119 Jun 199930 Jun 1999Trial service broadcast in Bendigo. Licence cancelled due to failure to broadcast regular programming.
ACE TV 31May 1994Dec 2002Broadcast in Adelaide. Licence cancelled due to conditions breach. Succeeded by C31 Adelaide in 2004.
Channel 31 199323 Apr 2004Broadcast in Sydney. Succeeded by Television Sydney in 2006.
BushVision 3723 Sep 20054 Mar 2007Trial service broadcast in Mount Gambier, South Australia.
Access 31 3118 Jun 19996 Aug 2008Broadcast in Perth. Closed due to insolvency. Succeeded by West TV on LCN 44 in 2010.
LINC TV 68Sep 19932012Broadcast in Lismore, New South Wales. Broadcast intermittently from original launch until final close.
Digital stations
DVB nameLCNLaunch dateDiscontinued dateNotes
Television Sydney 4420 Feb 200620 Dec 2015Broadcast in Sydney, Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands. Originally broadcast on UHF 31 until 2010.
31 Digital 31 Jul 199428 Feb 2017Broadcast in Brisbane and surrounding areas. Originally broadcast on UHF 31 until 2010. Reinvented as online streaming service Hitchhike TV .
West TV 10 Apr 201020 Feb 2020Broadcast in Perth and surrounding areas.

Programs

Many original television programs have been created by community television stations. These are often broadcast on stations in other states, and sometimes transfer later to pay television or free-to-air. Programs include:

Related Research Articles

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C31 Melbourne

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.

Access 31 was a free-to-air community television station based in Perth, Western Australia which operated between 1999 and 2008 before closing due to insolvency. The station had broadcast on UHF 31 from NEW's television mast at Carmel in the Perth Hills. It was also available at certain times on the Westlink Network, which at the time, was broadcast via the Optus Aurora satellite service and some analog terrestrial repeaters which included the city of Albany.

Television Sydney

Television Sydney (TVS) was a free-to-air sponsors-based community television station broadcasting in Sydney, Australia. The station lost both its community franchise and the battle to remain on the air on 8 December 2015 and ceased transmission on 20 December 2015 after almost ten years on the air. The station was not replaced.

Channel 44 (Adelaide) Community television station in Adelaide, South Australia

Channel 44 is a free-to-air community television channel in Adelaide, South Australia. C44 features locally and nationally made content and has been broadcasting since 23 April 2004. Previously known as C31 when on analogue television, C44 made the switch to digital on 5 November 2010 and switched off its analogue signal on 31 May 2012. C44 airs a range of local, interstate and international content that is relevant to the local community.

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West TV Community television station in Perth, Western Australia

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References

  1. Turner, Graeme; Cunningham, Stuart (25 July 2020). The Australian TV Book. Taylor & Francis.
  2. "Community TV: Malcolm Turnbull confirms licensing for stations will end in 2015". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  3. Knox, David (17 September 2015). "Community TV lifeline: extended to 2016". TV Tonight. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  4. Christensen, Nic (21 December 2015). "Community TV station TVS goes off-air but aims to relaunch with video on demand service". mUmBRELLA. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  5. Knox, David (15 December 2016). "New switch-off date for Community TV". TV Tonight. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  6. "Channel 31 gets a six-month reprieve on free-to-air TV shutdown". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  7. Wallbank, Paul (15 September 2017). "The devil in the detail: The deals the government made to get media reforms across the line". Mumbrella. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  8. Harris, Rob (13 September 2017). "Media reform: Government clinches deal with crossbench". Herald Sun. Melbourne. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  9. Clun, Rachel (8 March 2017). "Briz 31 ceases television broadcast, but online future has 'huge potential'". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  10. "Community television broadcasters granted two year licence extension" (Press release). Canberra. Department of Communications and the Arts. 1 June 2018. Archived from the original on 6 June 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  11. "Final 12-month licence extension for Melbourne and Adelaide community TV to finalise digital transition" (Press release). Canberra. Department of Communications and the Arts. 30 June 2020. Archived from the original on 28 August 2020. Retrieved 28 August 2020.
  12. Kelsall, Thomas (24 June 2021). "Channel 44 off death row with three-year licence extension". InDaily . Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  13. Sutton, Malcolm (23 June 2021). "Community TV stations Channel 31 and Channel 44 given three-year lifeline in surprise turnaround". ABC News. ABC Radio Adelaide. Australian Broadcasting Corporation . Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  14. https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/briz-31-ceases-television-broadcast-but-online-future-has-huge-potential-20170308-gutvuy.html
  15. https://wtvperth.com.au/
  16. https://tvtonight.com.au/2020/02/wtv-off-air-in-perth-until-further-notice.html
  17. https://www.maitlandmercury.com.au/story/2437899/still-hope-for-hunter-tv-station/
  18. https://ctvplus.org.au/
  19. https://www.if.com.au/community-stations-launch-ctv-streaming-service/

See also