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Turnbull – is he saviour or slayer of community television?

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 18 Sep 2014

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull could become the saviour rather than the slayer of community television by adopting a spectrum efficiency approach Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said today.

 "Minister Turnbull has been widely criticised for his latest communications plan that puts the interests of media chiefs before that of community television viewers," Senator Rhiannon said.

 "Despite the Minister’s assurances it is clear that pushing community television to internet broadcasting would kill off this important part of our media mix.

 "I urge Mr Turnbull not to lock community television out of a viable future.

 "The technical advice that I've received suggests that with new broadcasting technology, a number of television services can reside on the sixth channel. This means community television can co-exist alongside proposed technology trials by the major free-to-air networks on the sixth channel, in the medium term."

 "Adopting this plan would deliver efficiencies in the use of the public spectrum for television broadcasting.

 "The spectrum is a valuable commodity and this is the responsible way to use it rather than allowing wealthy media owners to be the sole beneficiaries.

 "I know the Minister values his reputation so I am hopeful he will approach this with an open mind.

 "Right now the member for Wentworth's broadcasting policy has cast him in the camp of the wealthy media owners who are eyeing off a $200 million purchase of the spectrum.

 "Clearly the internet will be the future of broadcasting but why should community television be the first one pushed in this direction when no commercial media are fully ready for the switch.

 "Mr Turnbull argues that community television on the internet will be free from the current restrictions on advertising and so will be able to carry any advertising they choose. This is highly misleading as current sponsors are unlikely to move online. Community television is self-funding, but to loose broadcasting rights will break the business model.

 "The responsible way for Minister Turnbull to proceed is to work with community television as they and other media adapt to the changing technologies," Senator Rhiannon said.

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