Keep Community Radio Alive

Commit to Community Radio

Right now Australia’s community radio future is very vulnerable. The Commission of Audit (the independent body appointed to review and report on the performance, functions and roles of the Commonwealth government) have recommended the cut of funding to community radio stations. At this stage it’s just a recommendation but if it became a reality this would have a devastating effect on hundreds of public broadcasters around the country. Ultimately the face of the Australian Radio Broadcasting industry could be changed indefinitely.

Without community radio in Australia hundreds of minority groups including artists, seniors, youths and religious groups will lose their voice to educate, entertain and inform audiences around the country. Not only does it provide a voice to minorities but it is also extremely beneficial for young broadcasters to develop their skills and create a voice of their own. Some of Australia’s most notable radio broadcasters began their careers at community stations and without this starting block opportunities for the broadcasters of the future are minimised.

Melbourne independent broadcaster Triple R’s manager, Dave Houchin told us how this proposed budget cut could impact their operation. “The community radio sector receives funding for community digital radio infrastructure of which 3RRR benefits, but this is funding is received and managed by the community broadcasting association of Australia,” Houchin says.

“That would be the primary impact on Triple R directly, that we would lose our digital DAB+ radio service, which we see as being the future of radio in Australia. Like Triple R, many other community stations will suffer the same cuts which would result in a more commercial and less diverse selection of stations to choose from.”

Houchin still does have hope that these cuts will not go ahead. He felt the Commission of Audit had little understanding of the principles of community radio. Their reasons behind the recommended cuts are that the government already forks out enough for the ABC and SBS and therefore feel there is no need to throw any further cash at community stations. Houchin believes the government has more sense; “I hope (and suspect) the government have a much clearer idea of the value and purpose of community broadcasting, and thus will decide against including this cut in the budget when it is released on Tuesday.”

Community Broadcaster 3CR’s station manager, Marian McKeown, says that the future of 3CR relies on funding, and like Triple R they would be unable to broadcast when the analogue service is shut off. McKeown also stated that many of the current programs will have to be reconsidered some of these being indigenous and language programs. She went on to explain that millions of dollars have been spent on getting community stations broadcasting digitally and if the funding is cut then that would be a lot of time and money gone straight down the gurgler.

The man behind the big decision is old mate Joe Hockey, the Treasurer of Australia who will have the final say on all budget cuts. Commit to Community Radio is rallying to get people in touch with Hockey to express their views on the importance of community radio in Australia.

Make your opinion heard if you want to continue tuning it to community radio. We hope that the abundance of emails sent to his inbox will ensure community radio has a decent future in Australia.

    Bradley Cowan

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