CBAA Conference kicks off at Gold Coast #CBAAConf | radioinfo

CBAA Conference kicks off at Gold Coast #CBAAConf

Friday 09 November, 2018

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia conference has officially begun today on the Gold Coast, with a welcome by President Phillip Randall (pictured) and address by Shadow Minister for Regional Communications, Stephen Jones.

Randall emphasised that the sector is at all-time-high listenership - 5.7 million weekly listeners across Australia, which is a "result of what you [stations] do."

He also highlighted that "we've seen government increasing investment in the sector by an extra 18 million dollars... which is a result of effective lobbying, and will be flowing through in the next four years."

He acknowledged the significant and on-going strains in the sector including issues of financial viability, volunteer resourcing, and technical infrastructure, and identified political and regulatory changes that will pose a challenge to stations in the coming year, including media ownership reforms, the introduction of new localism stipulations in the Broadcasting Services Act, and spectrum management reforms due to the Convergence Review. 

Echoing a broader theme at preliminary workshops held yesterday, Randall said that the time has come for a debate about deeper regulatory reform and that the CBAA considers this to be an important ongoing priorirty.

Stephen Jones also acknowledged the significant strain regulation puts on community stations, including regulation around sponsorship, and that the advertising industry is now undergoing a period of change which is having flow-on effects for community stations.

Drawing a contrast to the 2014 Abbott Budget, he reaffirmed Labor's support for increasing funding for the Community Radio sector while also warning that government spending will never fund a large amount of station expenses and community stations must look for funding within their community of interest. 

Jones highlighted the importance of having a diversity of voices in Australian media, and that community radio has a critical role in this. He used the example of the recent merger between Nine and Fairfax as a threat to democratic speech, particularly in regional areas - if not counterbalanced by a more robust media environment. 

Reporting: Daniel Ahern - Program Director at FBi Radio

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