Hills Radio in Mt Barker to shutter after ACMA review
Mount Barker-based community station Hills Radio will stop broadcasting at the end of the month following a decision from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The government body has decided to allocate a long-term community radio broadcasting licence in the Mt Barker area of the Adelaide Hills to Lofty Community Media Incorporated.
Hills and Lofty have been sharing the 88.9FM licence since November 2018. The licence will now be will be used to provide a permanent community radio service on the 88.9MHz frequency.
Hills Radio vice-chair Shawn Hutchinson said today (September 18) that ACMA’s decision is the end of the station, founded by station general manager Chris Carpenter in 2014.
“This decision means the closure of the station and that has devastated the volunteer staff and two paid employees who work tirelessly and enthusiastically to make this radio station a vital part of Mount Barker and the Hills community,” Hutchinson said in a press release.
As previously reported, Carpenter and Hills Radio were forced to address multiple sexual harassment claims from its staffers and volunteers in 2018.
ACMA confirmed that the past conduct of individuals did not impact today’s decision.
Lofty general manager, Lindsay Campbell, said he was “shocked” after receiving the good news.
“We didn’t expect this to happen, we’ve been going for less than two years,” he said. “We’re financially stable … but now with some certainty, we can get some sponsors.
“But we’re not about the money, our thing is the social benefit value, that’s what community radio is about,” Campbell said.
The ACMA advertised for applications for the licence in October 2019 and carefully considered all submissions against the criteria set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
In making its decision to allocate the licence, the ACMA considered how the proposed services would meet the needs of the community, and the capacity to provide the service.
The ACMA ultimately decided that Lofty presented the strongest case.