Press release from ACTA

The Australian Community Television Alliance has called for an urgent meeting with Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, following the sector’s surprise omission from the 2009 Budget.

Despite Government assurances that Community TV will not be left behind as Australian households are urged to switch to digital television reception the Federal Budget did not contain an expected announcement on funding for desperately needed simulcasting arrangements.

More than four million Australians tune in their local community station each month.

“CTV programming is targeted at audience groups that are under-served by the other channels. The sector provides access for special interest groups, multicultural communities and social networks that are not well catered for by the mainstream media”, the Secretary of the Australian Community Television Alliance, Mr Laurie Patton, said.

Community Television also provides a dynamic training ground for people aspiring to work in television and acts as an incubator for new talent and new program concepts.

“For a relatively modest sum of money the Government can provide a long term future for the thousands of not-for-profit community groups and individuals across Australia that create programs for community channels”, Mr Patton added.

ACTA has received confirmation that Community Television channels will be included in the Freeview Electronic Program Guide (EPG) once they commence digital transmission. Inclusion in the Freeview EPG will dramatically increase the exposure of the community channels and lead to much improved viewing audiences.

“All the research, by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and others, shows that one of the key ‘drivers’ for people contemplating going digital is the opportunity to receive extra channels”, Mr Patton concluded.

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