Federal budget ‘chipping away’ at community radio funding

Community Radio president Adrian Basso is disappointed in some of the budget measures announced last night.

The community sector is worried about the “pause” on community funding and is also concerned about whether legislation to protect journalists will extend to community broadcasters.

Last night’s 2015 Federal Budget continued the Administered Program Indexation Pause for an additional two years. This disappointing news will see the community broadcasting sector having to tighten its belt to cope with further chipping away at the budgets of Australia’s 440+ community radio stations, according to the CBAA. 

Adrian Basso said:

“The extension of the Indexation Pause by a further two years ultimately represents an incremental withdrawal of Government support. The community broadcasting sector lost over $1 million in Australian Government funding support through the initial impact of the Administered Program Indexation Pause and now faces a further substantial loss through its extension. 


“If the pause continues, the Government risks the slow demise of some in our sector, which contributes so much to the cultural life of Australia. Community stations, particularly the two thirds of community radio stations that operate in regional and remote areas, cannot absorb the pause forever and, over time, this will see services lost. The social and cultural impacts of this loss would include a reduction in the creation of unique local content and services which support community identities and social inclusion, reduced media diversity and a diminished voice for communities not adequately serviced by other media.”

Also in this budget, $158.3 million was allocated to implement national security laws in the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (data retention) Act. 

On this, Basso remarked: 

”Most urgent for the community radio sector is clarity on whether measures in this legislation to protect journalists will extend to community broadcasters. The clear inclusion of community broadcasters in the Act’s definition of journalism is essential to the sector’s ability to contribute to and reflect Australia’s open society, strong democracy and vibrant culture. Community broadcasters, including volunteer journalists, produce fierce, independent journalism with local voices and the Government must ensure that the definition of journalism in the Act builds upon this role, rather than undermines it”.

The community digital radio shortfall “must be addressed,” says Basso, to ensure community radio stations maintain their presence on the new technology platform. While digital radio listening is increasing, a shortfall looms in the funding to keep community digital radio stations broadcasting.


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