Australia's two remaining community television broadcasters, C31 Melbourne & Geelong and C44 Adelaide, have been granted a final, 12-month extension by the Federal Government to continue broadcasting while finalising the transition to online delivery of its services by 30 June, 2021.
The result is the hard work of many, many hands
, notably with Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie's work on behalf of C44, and the Andrews' Government providing a last-minute commitment of financial support to allow C31 to continue.
Although only pushing back the inevitable closure of community television with a permanent move to digital streaming by 12 months, it is a decision welcomed by both broadcasters.
"We're grateful for the support of the Federal and Victorian State Governments that will allow our beloved station to make an eventual successful transition online, and are appreciative of their ongoing support of the arts industry," C31 General Manager Shane Dunlop says.
"We're looking forward to using the next 12 months to continue to pivot our operations to focus on online broadcasting, and we look forward to working with producers and viewers to ensure that they can still create, distribute and access community television content, for many years to come."
"We are very relieved for this 12-month extension as it reconfirms the importance of the community TV sector," C44 General Manager Lauren Hillman says.
The 12-month extension provides additional certainty for broadcast partners and will allow time to educate 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,” C44 Development & Strategy Manager, Kristen Hamill says.
"We will be working closely with these groups to help increase their digital literacy and find their favourite Channel 44 programmes 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."