SCMA’s Year of the Dragon Conference

Chinese dragons heralded the announcement of the Southern Community Media Association’s Awards in Ballarat this weekend. The awards were part of the organisation’s annual conference, which discussed issues including marketing, programming, station leadership and ACMA’s approach to artist promotions.


A major issue raised at the conference plenary session was the ACMA’s rules regarding sponsorship of musical tours and local events. Community broadcasters were worried that promoting touring artists can potentially be in breach of the recently published ACMA guidelines and asked the Association to lobby on the matter.


The issue concerns what broadcasters think is an unjustified, over zealous application of sponsorship guidelines.


The argument goes that community radio should promote community and local artists. But what if an artist gives the station some free tickets to their show or some CDs as a giveaway. Suddenly there is a transaction and there is a sponsorship relationship. Broadcasters are concerned that if an interview with the artist then goes over 5 minutes there could be a technical breach.


To keep within the rules of sponsorship, community stations may lose the ability to promote community interests by interviewing musicians, organisers of fetes and fairs, and other community content.


Broadcasters at the conference felt the rules were in direct conflict with the missions of community broadcasters which include promoting Aussie artists and supporting community activities.


Other issues raised at the conference included the high level of APRA and PPCA fees, regional surveys, training and retraining, and board governance.


Opening the conference, Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King (pictured), said community radio is “important for preserving local voices and stories” that can be lost within the mainstream media. “It is also a great opportunity to learn media skills,” said King, who had previously been on the board of a community station, and whose brother has a regular community radio shift.


SCMA President Helen Bath told delegates that the current government has been true to its promise to provide more money to community stations through government advertising. She urged delegates to continue lobbying their local members to communicate the value of community radio and to remind them that government information campaigns should be placed on community stations, as well as on other media.



In a session on marketing, business coach David Wilson said stations must understand strategic marketing first, before they try to sell sponsorship.  Understanding your station’s place in the market comes first, followed by the ability to develop a consistent brand. Stations must clearly establish a target market first, then articulate how they see themselves to that target market. Only then will they have an appealing product which they can sell as sponsorship.




Saturday evening saw the presentation of the annual X Awards in the grand hall.  The winners were:


Best in-house production of a sponsorship announcement

88.9 FM – Higgins Sons


Best in-house production of a sweeper or station ID

Stereo 974 – Station Promo


Best in-house production of a CSA

Stereo 974 – CSA


Best in-house production of a show promotion

Bippera Media – Dial a Hit


Best sports program

Southern FM – 2011 Grand Final


Best outside broadcast

Great Lakes FM – Zucchini Drop


Best interview

5 TCB – Vanessa Amarosi Interview


Best locally produced Music Program

5 TCB – Melomania


Best locally produced Non-Music Program

My 105 FM – A country Yarn


Best locally produced news

Great Lakes FM