Community broadcasting plays an important role in the development of both Australian communities generally, and the effectiveness of the Australian broadcasting industry more specifically.
Community broadcasting is media produced by communities for communities.
Community broadcasting is based on principles of:
Access & Participation
- Independence and
The Australian community broadcasting sector is recognised internationally as one of the most successful examples of ‘grassroots' media. Community broadcasting provides news, information, cultural content and entertainment to communities defined by geographical location or common interest.
There are more than 350 licensed community radio broadcasters in Australia, 80 indigenous television licences and 6 community television stations. Most licenced community stations (73% ) are based in regional, rural and remote areas. With few exceptions, community stations are independently owned and operated by the communities they serve. The sector operates three national satellite audio channels (General, Indigenous & RPH) for program distribution and exchange and three national news services (General, Ethnic & Indigenous).
It is estimated that around 25 percent of Australians (over 4 million people) aged 15 and over listen to community radio in a typical week. The key reason given for listening to community radio is that they have "local information / local news'.
While the number of community broadcasters has increased by 54 per cent over the past decade, Commonwealth funding has only increased by 31 per cent. The result has been an average 18 per cent reduction in the funding of each service.
At a time when funding for community broadcasting is declining, the need for this important service has been heightened due to the decline in the diversity of media ownership and the decline of local and regional newspapers.
The scarcity of funding has been heightened by the need to meet the capital costs associated with the transition to digital broadcasting and the need for a period of simulcast broadcasts of digital and analogue signals.
The Greens' solution
The Greens believe that the community earns a significant return on the tiny investment made by the Commonwealth Government. The major source of assistance to community broadcasting is through contributions to the Community Broadcasting Foundation. In 2006/07 the Community Broadcasting Foundation received from the Government a total of $7.7 million over four years in funding for community broadcasting, that is, less than $2 million per year.
It has been estimated that the Howard government is spending more than $200 million per year on government advertising. The Greens propose to require 0.5 per cent of all government advertising to be spent on community radio and television stations. This would provide around $1 million in additional funding at no extra cost to the Budget.
Increased advertising revenues will help the sector, but additional funds for core services and sectoral development are also required. The Greens support the recommendations of the recent House of Representatives Report entitled "Tuning in to Community Broadcasting". In particular the Greens support the recommendations to:
- Increase the general community broadcasting category of core funding for the community broadcasting sector by $10 million, with indexed annual increases.
- Increase targeted funding for the community broadcasting sector to $5 million, with indexed annual increases.
- Provide additional funding of $0.5 million for training initiatives
- Provide $6 million to meet the cost of digital conversion and $1.7 million to meet the cost of the period of analogue and digital simulcast.
pic credit: nocallerid_man