A former public service bureaucrat, Neville Stevens, has been appointed to conduct a review of indigineous radio and tv services. He will be assisted by former tv executive Laurie Patton and journlaist Kerryanne Liddle. The review is due to report by the end of the year.
The review was announced in April, to assess whether money being spent on aboriginal broadcasting was being spent wisely after various changes in the sector over the past few years.
It is now likely to be stalled by the forthcoming election, which has also put into limbo a review of regional radio trigger events and other decisions on media regulation. No government likes to make firm commitments to changes in media leading up to an election because any decision may please some and anger others, resulting in bad press during an election campaign.
The wide ranging review will look at government funding to indigenous services through the Community Broadcasting Foundation, direct funding to indigenous media organisations, and funding which is channelled through ABC and SBS. It will also review NITV and other indigenous tv services.
Announcing the review, Arts Minister Peter Garrett said the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector provides an important voice to Indigenous Australians:
“We want to make sure that Indigenous Australians continue to have a strong voice in the media, that the sector contributes to employment opportunities and ensures access to information for Indigenous Australians. This will be an independent review of the Government’s funding of Indigenous broadcasting carried out in consultation with the sector and the public.
The Australian Government funds NITV and Imparja Television, as well as supporting Indigenous Community Television, five community radio stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Darwin, licensed community radio stations in 22 regional centres, eight Remote Indigenous Media Organisations and 71 Remote Indigenous Broadcasting Services.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, says the Government is determined to ensure the resources allocated to Indigenous broadcasting deliver the best outcomes for Indigenous people.
Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, says the review will also look at other Australian Government investment in the sector. “This includes the ABC, SBS and the Community Broadcasting Foundation. These organisations make a substantial contribution to the production and distribution of Indigenous broadcasting content, but fall outside the $14.5 million Indigenous Broadcasting Program.”
The terms of reference for the independent review have been developed in consultation with the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector. The terms of reference are to:
- consider the specific policy and cultural outcomes for Indigenous Australians to be realised through the Australian Government’s investment in Indigenous broadcasting and media;
- consider and make recommendations on the most efficient, effective appropriate forms of the Australian Government’s investment;
- consider the impact of media convergence on the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector and the carriage of Indigenous broadcasting and media on new digital platforms, including terrestrial services, broadband enabled platforms and the new Government-funded satellite service;
- identify the contribution of Indigenous broadcasting to Closing the Gap;
- assess future options for funding the delivery of Indigenous broadcasting and media in light of future challenges and opportunities and uncertainly about the sustainability of existing funding models and taking into account regional and cultural language requirements;
- develop a robust performance framework for the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector; and
- assess the options for the most efficient, effective and appropriate arrangements within the Australian Government for the administration of Indigenous broadcasting and media.
The review is expected to be completed by 31 December 2010.