The NEMBC has written an open letter to the CBF accusing them of being misleading about ethnic funding.
It comes after the CBF responded to claims made by the NEMBC that its new governance and structural model will have a serious impact on ethnic community broadcasters, labelling the concerns “speculative scaremongering”.
The Community Broadcasting Foundation announced earlier this month the finalisation of its new governance and structural model with the release of its final report.
Dear Ethnic community broadcasters, stations and supporters
We are writing to you about a letter that the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF) sent you on the 10 March. The NEMBC is very concerned about the statements made by the CBF in this letter, and would like to respond to some of their misinformation.
The NEMBC is a membership organisation that represents the interests of ethnic community broadcasters. We have been safeguarding your rights to maintain the CBF funding arrangements that have served us so well for so many years. We are concerned the CBF is attempting to by-pass us, to isolate us and tell you directly what you should do.
We ask you to PROTECT ethnic community broadcasting by not collaborating in a new model of funding that will have detrimental effects on ethnic community broadcasting. In particular a model that has not been tested despite several requests from NEMBC for CBF to present the cost and resources implications of their model.
The CBF’s Review and consultation process has had the largest and single most negative impact on ethnic community broadcasting since it began. The CBF is doing irreparable damage to ethnic community broadcasting by questioning the merits and transparency of ethnic funding.
The NEMBC is the conservative and moderate in this debate because we have put forward positive suggestions that could have seen gradual changes, but the CBF has only ever considered a single model that they have decided on, despite strong opposition.
The CBF has been misleading on number issues:
· The Sector Roundtable did not agree that the “CBF reforms are a constructive step for the sector”. This was not a formal position adopted by the Roundtable. The Roundtable did not agree that “The CBF’s consultation process had been adequate”. These two CBF statements are extremely misleading and misinform ethnic community broadcasters, stations and the sector.
· The NEMBC is not alone in its opposition to their radical changes. The CBF would like to isolate the NEMBC, as if it is alone in its opposition. There are thousands of ethnic broadcasters that oppose the CBF reforms and a multitude of organisations and supporters, that in total number in the millions. Indigenous and Ethnic broadcasters, who have the most to lose, oppose the CBF changes. There are many general radio stations and broadcasters that oppose the CBF changes. Indeed, almost half of the last submissions to the CBF Review voiced strong opposition to their proposals.
· The CBF has misinformed you about the new system being simpler, efficient and effective. In reality, it will be much more complicated for ethnic community broadcasters.
· The CBF told the NEMBC that democracy would prevail and the NEMBC could still elect people to be nominated at our AGM for positions on various committees. But the rushed time line, with nominations due by early April, takes no consideration of the sectors AGM timetable. There is no democracy in the CBFs governance model.
· The NEMBC is listening to its members. The CBF say they have been consulting widely, but have they been listening? The CBF will proudly claim they attended a special session at the NEMBC conference, but what they won’t tell you is that ethnic community broadcasters were very angry with CBF representatives, especially when they stated ‘we are not changing the process’ in the new model; participants shouted you are ‘crooks and liars’.
The NEMBC stands by its statements:
1) Ethnic stations will lose funding: The CBF could easily clarify this situation by guaranteeing that full-time ethnic stations will not lose funding, but the CBF will not make such a guarantee.
2) Ethnic programs will be jeopardised: If each program has to spend time justifying their actual costs year after year, then non-English speakers will struggle.
3) The present system is an incentive: If that is taken away and replaced by a complicated and competitive system of funds, ethnic programs will be lost.
4) The funding program will become competitive: This will cause tensions in the sector between individuals, organisations and programs. It rests on who has the best grant application writer. Further tensions will arise from the ‘operational’ component also becoming competitive.
5) Ethnic community broadcasting will be controlled by a small group of people: This is correct, when the $4 million of the Commonwealth grant that currently goes to ethnic broadcasting will ultimately be controlled by the CBF Board if new funding arrangements come into place.
6) The voice of ethnic community broadcasting will be lost. ‘Independence of ethnic community broadcasting’ will be lost and it will be consumed by the CBF’s corporate bureaucratic model. The chance for policy input, which is enabled in the present system, will be lost.
7) The NEMBC stands by the need for funding to be diverted away from the CBF.During the last thirty years the CBF has been a trusted vehicle to administer Commonwealth funding. Now that vehicle will take control over the funding and it can no longer be trusted. It is better if that funding goes to an organisation that understands ethnic community broadcasting.
If the NEMBC is, as the CBF claims, ‘scaremongering’, then it’s the CBF that has provided fertile ground by a knee-jerk consultation process more aligned to a corporate company than the community broadcasting sector. The CBF is moving ahead to set up a new organisation with no funding guidelines in place and no financial costing on the new organisation.
It’s clear that the CBF has been working to move very quickly. The CBF Board met on Friday 29 February 2016 and the full governance plan was announced the following Monday. While the CBF insist they have been consulting, it’s been more like a juggernaut moving ahead with a single purpose and with a single model.
The NEMBC wants to let you know that the quantum of funding, 4 million dollars, from the Government to ethnic community broadcasting will not change. Our argument is not with the Government. The NEMBC’s concerns are that the CBF will become the controllers of our funding and mainstream and dilute it, and set up complex guidelines. The CBF will take more for its operational costs to provide this new model, presently the ethnic sector provides for one-third of the CBF operational costs. This is why we are concerned that there is no financial costing or any guarantee the CBF will not be using more of the ethnic funding to administer the process.
The ethnic community broadcasting sector has withstood the test of time and done amazing things under the current funding arrangements. We want this to continue.
Do not be misled by what the CBF is saying.
Support your peak body and boycott the nomination process.
The NEMBC has provided a detailed fact sheet of the whole process on our website.www.nembc.org.au
Dr Tangi Steen Nick Dmyterko
NEMBC President NEMBC Vice president