Mixed results for broadcasters in Federal Budget | radioinfo

Mixed results for broadcasters in Federal Budget

Thursday 13 May, 2010

Treasurer Wayne Swan delivered the federal budget on Tuesday with increases for both national broadcasters, but a lack of specific extra funding for digital radio.  Here’s how it shaped up for the ABC, SBS and the community broadcasting sector.



An ABC corporate spokesperson told radioinfo:

“We were given some capital funding. There was no separate funding for digital radio.”

In Budget Bill No 2 the national broadcaster’s increased equipment allocation was described like this.

“The Government will provide the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) with additional one-off capital funding of $14.5 million in 2010/11 to assist the ABC to maintain its current asset base. The additional funding will help the ABC replace analog studio and related broadcasting equipment with digital equipment without impacting on the ABC's content generation activities.” 

An analysis of the budget papers shows that ABC Radio received an increase of about $10 million for normal radio services, with $326.5 million allocated this year, compared with Radio Division expenditure in 2009/10 of $315.6 million.

 ABC Radio will give specific focus this financial year to:

• continuing to develop the role of ABC Local Radio and ABC Local Online as the primary points of connection for communities across Australia at times of emergency;

• continuing to develop its digital radio broadcasting capability; and

• internationally, strengthening the reach and impact of Radio Australia in designated target countries.

The ABC will receive an extra $151.7 million for its new children's tv channel and to lift Australian content. The extra money comes on top of its base allocation of $2.14 billion, announced in the Budget as part of its triennial funding arrangement.



SBS will receive an extra $20 million over the next three years to produce up to 50 hours of new Australian tv content each year on top of base funding of $382.6 million over the triennial funding period.

The budget papers show that SBS Radio received an increase of over $1 million for normal radio services, with $41.7 million allocated this year, compared with Radio Division expenditure in 2009/10 of $40.4 million. The budget for digital radio transmission and distribution has been dropped from $2.4 to $1.9 million.

SBS Radio’s primary objective is to “deliver multilingual and multicultural radio services that reflect Australia’s multicultural society.”



Despite its pre-budget lobbying campaign by the CBAA and individual stations to secure additional funding of $25m in 2010/11, there was little joy for the community broadcasting sector.

Budget portfolio documents show no additional funding support “other than the usual small increase through partial indexation.” No new initiatives were announced or funded by DBCDE.

The CBAA says: “While this is a disappointing result, our work has not been wasted… The profile of the sector has been increased significantly, both at the grass-roots level in marginal electorates around the country and in Parliament. The groundwork has been laid for a strong federal election campaign.”

The Department’s allocation for community broadcasting in 2010/11 is $12.5 million, which includes funding for sector projects including the Digital Radio Project and also RPH transmission support funding.

The Indigenous Broadcasting Program, which is allocated from a different department, DEWHA, received $30 million which includes funding for National Indigenous TV.



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13 May 2010 - 4:30am
By any measure, there is greater awareness of community radio in the general community in 2010 than there has ever been, with many people choosing to look for alternatives to the often bland offerings of commercial radio.
This is particularly true in country areas, where significant numbers of both heritage AM stations and spinoff FM licences have been allowed to be bought by a handful of operators who then simply network the programming, resulting in virtually no local content. A similar situation has existed for many years with the ABC, with the exception of regional breakfast programmes.
Community radio provides virtually the only opportunities for truly localised, one community shows, for ethic broadcasting in a multitude of languages well beyond the mainstream nationalities covered by SBS, and for specialist music programmes embracing genres of music not even considered by the focus group/ heavily researched (to the point of repetitiveness and blandness) commercial radio networks.
Most of our community radio stations are run entirely by volunteers, with on air presenters actually paying for the opportunity to offer an alternative programme. Without this structure, with very limited or no government assistance to individual stations, community radio would not survive.
Yet, despite all the benefits that community radio potentially brings to the population at large, there is greater government funding given to the ACMA to watch over the activities of community broadcasters than there is funding to allow this sector to survive.
Once again, it seems that government policy and funding in broadcasting is being driven by young public servants who radio listening is dictated by today's top 40 and their own iPod selections.
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