Use licence auction money for Community Broadcasting says Senator Cherry

As today’s Brisbane licence auction delivered another $80 million into government coffers, Democrat Senator Cherry has urged the government to use the estimated $260 million from commercial radio licences auctions to reduce the financial pressures on both public and community broadcasters.

The community broadcasting sector agrees with Senator Cherry and has applauded the Australian Democrats for calling on the major parties to allocate more public funding to community broadcasting.

Cherry’s announcement forms part of the ‘Australian Democrats – Public and Community Broadcasting Budget’ which was launched today.

Paul Terdich, President of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, told radioinfo Senator Cherry’s announcement “recognises the urgent need for more public monies to be invested into the sector.”

“Community broadcasters provide local and specialist services that cannot be provided by national broadcast media and for which there is insufficient profit motive for supply by commercial media.”

Referring to these specialist services, President of the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council George Zangalis, says broadcasts in about 150 different community languages across the country are a vital part of Australia’s democracy.

An increase in funding would also be of benefit to the 15 dedicated RPH services where 1600 volunteers produce 1500 hours per week of RPH programming for people with a print disability.

Terdich told radioinfo: “Despite the number of community stations having doubled over the last decade, the average level of Australian Government funding support available per station in real terms has declined by 45%. This is something we have been telling the Federal Government for some years. Having been ignored by the major political parties for some time, it’s encouraging to now see the Democrats engaging with the issue.”

Terdich is calling on the Coalition and ALP to demonstrate their support for media diversity by committing to an additional $10.8m in core sector funding in the areas of programming, training, infrastructure development and transmission access support.