Press release from ACTA

The Australian Community Television Alliance has called on the Government to immediately find $3 million so that existing capital city Community Television channels can go digital before the end of the year.

Despite Government assurances that Community TV will not be left behind as Australian households are urged to switch to digital television reception the 2009 Federal Budget did not contain an expected announcement on funding for desperately needed simulcasting arrangements.

Last night’s Budget included $140 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce to encourage people to go digital but much of this will be wasted if the four million viewers of Community Television vote with their remotes and refuse to switchover while their favourite channel is still analogue-only.

For around $3 million a year the Government could solve this problem.

“The ABC, SBS and the regional television networks are all receiving financial support from the Government for their simulcasts so it is only fair that the community stations are also provided for,” ACTA Secretary, Mr Laurie Patton, said today.

“For this 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 Television,” Mr Patton added.

ACTA maintains that the Government needs Community Television to go digital as part of its switchover strategy.

“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 said.

ACTA also rejected suggestions that Community Television should be moved to broadband, reportedly one of the options being put forward in some circles.

“It is simply ridiculous to suggest that Community Television be ’shunted’ on to broadband,” according to Mr Patton. “Anyone who knows anything about the key audience groups who watch Community TV would know that far too many do not have access to broadband and are not likely to have this any time soon”.

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