‘Disappointing’ news for two community stations that will go dark

Two community radio operations today have joined a small group of stations to have lost their licences in Australia.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority had cancelled the licences of only six other stations in the past, with Hawkesbury Radio 2VTR and Rhema Radio 4MIG Mt Isa now added to the list.

In 2007 2ARM Armidale was not renewed because the ACMA was “not satisfied that 2ARM has the management capacity to provide a service.” In that same year 2BCR Bankstown was not renewed because it was judged not to be adequately serving the community, and 2HOT Cobar went dark because it did not have the capacity to run the service.

In 2008, two stations lost their licences, with 6PCR Fremantle “not adqeuately encouraging the community to participate in the service,” and 6YMS Perth not meeting the needs of the community.

In 2013, 7HRT Tasmania was not renewed because it “did not have the capacity, including the management and financial capacity, to provide the service.”

2VTR and 4MIG now join that list.

Hawkesbury Radio 2VTR in NSW has had continuing issues with the ACMA since about 2013, when an internal dispute and the expulsion of a member caused complaints to be made to the regulator, resulting in several cautions and licence conditions to be  imposed on the station. See our previous reports here.

Rhema Radio 4MIG, the Christian station in Mount Isa Queensland does not appear to have had any strikes against it from the ACMA, but is believed to have just “run out of puff” according to one local source, who says the station could not get enough volunteers to keep things going.

CBAA CEO Jon Bisset has told radioinfo:

“It’s always disappointing when a community broadcaster doesn’t have its licence renewed. However the great news today is that nearly 99% of stations applying for renewal did have a positive outcome, reinforcing the fantastic role that the sector plays in local communities and supporting media diversity.”

It is not known what action the two stations will take. It is likely that, without a licence, they would wind up their organisational structures. Most community stations are operated by non-profit associations, which have provisions for winding up the organisation and giving or selling assets to a similar like minded non-profit group.

The ACMA is thought to be keen to see if there are other groups in the licence areas interested in taking on the frequencies and will advertise for applications as soon as possible.

4MIG will go off air on 11 September 2017, and 2VTR will go dark on 3 October 2017.


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