Channel 31’s days appear numbered as Adelaide community TV station offered lifeline
23.06.2020

Channel 31’s days appear numbered as Adelaide community TV station offered lifeline

Words by Tom Parker

Adelaide’s Channel 44 has been offered a 12-month extension of their free-to-air licence.

If nothing changes, Channel 31 will be switched off at the end of June in a disastrous result for the longstanding community TV station. The station has been a critical platform for emerging content creators to ply their craft and gain exposure since 1994 – if their contract is not renewed it will leave a gaping hole in Melbourne’s creative landscape.

Just days out from the June 30 switch off, Channel 31 has learned that its sister station, Channel 44, has been offered a selective 12-month extension of their free-to-air licence. The Melbourne entity have made similar attempts to seek a similar offer from the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher, to no avail and the station has come to the assumption that an extension won’t be forthcoming.

Channel 31 is puzzled by the decision, one that lacks justification, reasoning and shrouds the Melbourne community TV station with uncertainty – ‘Why them, but not us?’

The station’s general manager, Shane Dunlop, admits he is confused by the move to offer Channel 44 an extension without considering Channel 31.

“This decision to provide an offer of 12 months to just one community TV station begs the question as to whether any of the reasons put forward by Minister Paul Fletcher as to why more time could not be granted to the sector as a whole have any merit,” Dunlop said in a press statement. “The valuable spectrum in Melbourne will go unused for many years to come and at a great cost to the vibrant and diverse Victorian community whom Channel 31 has had a 25-year history of servicing.

“With seven days remaining until our broadcast comes to a close, we ask one more time for Minister Fletcher to consider our case and to provide Channel 31 Melbourne with the same 12-month extension he is considering providing to Channel 44 Adelaide.”

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PRESS RELEASE: 11th HOUR REPRIEVE POSSIBLE FOR C44 ADELAIDE – C31 MELBOURNE LEFT IN THE COLD Community Television station C31 Melbourne and Geelong has learned of an offer extended to its sister station Channel 44 Adelaide, that looks set to renew their free-to-air licence for another 12-months. C31 management have made attempts to seek a similar offer from the Minister for Communications but have not been successful. We are now of the understanding that this offer will not be extended to the Melbourne station and we will be switched off free-to-air on Tuesday, June 30th, 2020. We are of course very pleased to learn of the news that our counterparts in Adelaide may be getting another year of broadcast. However, it begs the question, if an extension is possible for one station, why not both? This arbitrary decision to exclude C31 from a licence extension lacks justification and will come as a significant shock to the many diverse Melbourne communities and volunteers that produce local content, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of individuals that tune in. C31 General Manager Shane Dunlop states, “This decision to provide an offer of 12-months to just one Community TV station begs the question as to whether any of the reasons put forward by Minister Paul Fletcher as to why more time could not be granted to the sector as a whole have any merit. The valuable spectrum in Melbourne will go unused for many years to come and at a great cost to the vibrant and diverse Victorian community whom C31 has had a twenty-five-year history of servicing.” “With 7 days remaining until our broadcast comes to a close, we ask one more time for Minister Fletcher to consider our case and to provide C31 Melbourne with the same 12-month extension he is considering providing to C44 Adelaide.” #KeepLocalTV

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