Community digital radio could shut down

Staff Writer

On the Commit to Community Radio website they have released the following statement :-

Community digital radio services may be forced to shut down following the Federal Government’s failure to provide the mere $1.4 million in funding needed for their survival in tonight’s budget.

The Federal Government’s failure to address the funding shortfall means that tough decisions will now have to be made about the future of community digital radio services.

President of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA), Adrian Basso, said the government has tonight jeopardised the future of community digital radio.

“This is a disappointing outcome for all the communities who rely on community radio to provide the information, opinion and music commercial stations and the national broadcasters can’t or don’t,” Mr Basso said.

“We’ll now be consulting with all digital community radio services on their future. A 40 per cent annual operational shortfall in funding is obviously very significant and tough decisions will have to be made that could leave some communities without their community digital radio services."

Decisions on the future of digital community radio services will be made over the coming weeks and Mr Basso says the CBAA is seeking urgent talks with Minister Stephen Conroy to discuss the implications of the budget and options for community digital radio.

“The Australian public wants community radio to have a future. The government says it is committed as well, yet this budget does not properly deliver on that commitment,” Mr Basso said. “Addressing the mere $1.4million shortfall is all that is required to keep community digital radio services up and running."

“For a government that says it’s committed to media diversity, it’s done a pretty good job of stifling it."

“A quarter of Australian radio listeners turn to community radio stations every week for services that include specialist music, Indigenous media, multicultural and ethnic language programs, religious, educational and youth services, print disability reading services, and community access programs. The digital community radio services that provide this essential content are now facing a very uncertain future."

“Community radio stations are already investing significant time and money in developing new programming and services for their digital services. As not-for-profit organisations they provide valuable free-to-air digital broadcast services for the public. Tonight’s budget flies in the face of the commitment made to provide stations with affordable access to the digital platform."

Meanwhile SYN Media's General Manager Tahlia Azaria says:

"What we know about young people is that they want to be connected. Young people, particularly in regional and rural areas, are more isolated than their metropolitan counterparts and our plan was to use digital radio to break down that barrier."

"For us, community media is vital for more than just the niche stories and perspectives it provides. It is a platform for expression, it builds confidence, creativity and communication skills, team work and leadership skills. It really equips all of our participants with the tools they need to be constructive members of society, which we've seen eventuate time and time again as our broadcasters and producers move through the organisation into successful careers."

"Young people have everything they need to be bedroom producers, but it's just not as rewarding or credible as traditional broadcasting is. If podcasts were the answer we would be seeing a downturn in membership, but the fact is that every year it increases. Our information sessions are full every month, with some young people travelling from as far as Bendigo and Ballarat to attend, and our training is booked out three months in advance."

"Young people want to be on radio. They want to be part of a community. That's all there is to it. But unfortunately yesterday's budget does not cater to that need."

For more information on digital radio and to join the Commit to Community Radio campaign go here.

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