Ethnic Broadcasters Conference told: lobby and include youth

Broadcasters at the NEMBC Conference in Canberra last weekend were reminded that there is an election coming up, so they should lobby politicians on a range of multicultural broadcasting issues. The conference also had a strong theme about including more youth broadcasting in the ethnic community broadcasting sector.

NEMBC (National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council) President George Zangalis told delegates that the last 12 months “have been a year of growth, but also a year of challenges.”

The terms Multicultural and Ethnic were debated, as to which was the most accurate in describing the sector and the most significant for getting on the funding agenda. Zangalis said:

“Multiculturalism goes on and off the agenda at times. At present it has been off the agenda, and so funding has been cut, affecting the less privileged sectors of our society. We have to go back to the wider community and put this back on the agenda… Arguments against multiculturalism need to be answered again and again.”

He explained that as well as providing access and community support, like other community broadcasters, ethnic community broadcasters also had an important role to play in maintaining community languages.

Zangalis also addressed the ongoing theme of youth involvement in the sector, urging broadcasters to encourage and accept youth into station programming and recognise that the next generation may not want to listen just to language broadcasts.

“Some people try to drive a wedge between older and younger broadcasters, or new arrivals and communities which have been here for a long time, but this must not happen… A century ago diversity was rejected, but most Australians today accept diversity and believe it is a good thing for Australia… we broadcast in ethnic languages for about 1500 hours per week, double the hours of SBS, so we deserve more and we should be demanding more.”

Zangalis also spoke about the Ethnic Training Project (AERTP) where funding has run out. He urged ethnic broadcasters to lobby for more funding to continue this project in a year when an election is due.

Other conference highlights included SBS Alchemy broadcaster Patrick Abboud who spoke on the first day about the experience of growing up ethnic and feeling disconnected from traditional media.

Arabic speaker Abboud described how community arts and media allowed him to reflect his diversity and find people with similar experiences. “I could show my life, not as an ‘other’ but just as me,” he said.

Abboud played examples of radio segments and features produced by young ethic broadcasters and urged delegates to “make space in programming for young people to reflect their experience and connect you to people who might otherwise consider the programs uncool.”

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward spoke about the benefits of encouraging more female participation in programming and detailed the inequalities that still remain in this country and in other cultures. The former radio broadcaster also commented on John Laws, saying he should have been mroe careful about the words he used to acknowledge sponsors because words are a broadcasters business.

When asked if there was a woman who could replace Laws when he retired, she nominated (her daughter) Kate Fisher. While joking about it, she also commented that it was a significant point that there were so few women in similar talk radio positions. She said she was not sure whether this was because, according to ‘traditional wisdom’ listeners did not want to listen to females in this role, or that there was not enough opportunity for women to move into such positions.