The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) has welcomed an Australian Labor Party announcement committing AUD$29m to a regional, local and community media package, should it win office in the upcoming Federal Election on May 21.
Announced by Michelle Rowland MP, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Communications, the package promises $12m for community radio ($4m a year over three years), securing the sector’s minimum base level of funding at just over $20m per annum – extending beyond what is marked in the forward estimates from 2023-24. This is the base level of funding required to support community radio station operations and content development, and vital industry-wide initiatives like community DAB+ digital radio.
Labor has said if it is successful in the election and forms Government, it will also work with the sector to identify a sustainable funding basis for the future through the Government’s Community Broadcasting Program. The CBAA has long advocated for an increase in sector funding to $25m per annum to maintain the sector’s output, which would further enhance station resilience and innovation.
Jon Bisset, CBAA’s CEO, said, “We are very pleased at today’s announcement, which shows Labor recognises the vital role community radio plays in supporting vibrant Australian communities. Across our sector, stations have been at the forefront of providing support and connection through recent disasters – like Bay FM’s relief efforts for Byron Shire, connecting people with critical services, meals, and medical care after the recent floods. They are also innovating to ensure regional communities don’t miss out on important news and information – like Outback Radio in Bourke and Torres Strait Islanders Media Association’s 4MW who returned their local papers to their communities.
“This commitment to funding for our sector protects our stations’ base funding, and maintains critical sector-wide projects, like DAB+ community radio. This means we can enhance listeners’ choice and media diversity. If Labor is elected, we look forward to working with them to identify a sustainable funding basis for the future that further empowers our stations to continue their vital work connecting, supporting and building resilient communities right across Australia.”
The package also recognises the integral role of community television in adding to Australia’s media diversity, local news and Australian content. Labor has committed to keeping community TV stations Channel 31 Melbourne and Channel 44 Adelaide on air until there is an alternative use for the radiofrequency spectrum they occupy, and ensure efficient use of this finite, scarce and valuable resource.
This is the first 2022 Federal Election announcement in support of community broadcasting.