Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher confirmed yesterday that Channel 44’s free-to-air broadcasting license has been extended by 12 months.
C44 is a community broadcaster for community groups and content creators within South Australia and actively engages with local South Australian communities, businesses and events to help promote and showcase the best of what our state has to offer.
In 2014, former Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull announced that community TV stations would need to operate online-only from the end of 2015.
Since then, a series of last-minute licence extensions have kept C44 Adelaide and C31 Melbourne on-air but operating under increasingly difficult circumstances.
C31 in Brisbane, TVS in Sydney and WTV Perth have folded under the pressures of licence uncertainty.
Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher warned C44 earlier this year that beyond June 30 2020, their broadcast licence would not be renewed.
However, the Federal Government granted the last-minute extension with the condition that the station ceases broadcast in July 2021.
This extension has come as a welcome relief for all Channel 44 staff, volunteers, program makers.
Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie played an integral role in advocating for this extension,
“Channel 44 is well-loved, well watched and highly valued by our community, especially our older people who do not watch programs using internet devices,” she said.
The wider Adelaide community’s support has also been unwavering during the fight to retain their free to air broadcast licenses.
“We are very relieved for this 12-month extension as it reconfirms the importance of the Community TV sector,” said General Manager Lauren Hillman.
“The news that Melbourne has also received another 12 months is tremendous as it strengthens our sector and allows us to focus and collaborate on a national online platform over the next year.
“We are extremely appreciative of the support we’ve received over the past six years, we could not have made it this far without the advocacy of Federal and State Government representatives,” she said.
The 12-month extension will allow time for Channel 44 to educate their older audiences on how to access content online.
“Our religious and cultural broadcasts have been essential during COVID-19, particularly to older South Australians who do not have easy access to the internet,” said C44 Development & Strategy Manager, Kristen Hamill.
“We will be working closely with these groups to help increase their digital literacy and find their favourite Channel 44 programs online.”