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Breaking news: Community radio stations at risk

The Commission of Audit recently recommended that funding for the Community Broadcasting Program be scrapped. If the Federal Government adopts the recommendation in the upcoming budget, our community broadcasters will be at serious risk. 

Community broadcasting is a vital part of the Australian media landscape. It makes a significant contribution to media diversity, generates high levels of local content, and provides a unique range of services and programs.

For local communities right across the country, community radio and TV stations are vital.

Community broadcasting has always been significantly self-funded. The level of ongoing Federal Government funding through the Community Broadcasting Program provides just 8.5 per cent of average station income. And the Federal Government provides no dedicated ongoing funding support for community television.

However while modest, Federal Government policy and funding support is crucial to the sector’s ongoing operation and development.

What is community broadcasting?

Community radio brings heart and soul to Australian broadcasting.

Community radio is not-for-profit, community operated and controlled, and promotes an inclusive, cohesive and culturally diverse community. It offers an enormous diversity of content and information presented by people in their local communities, and is characterised by localism and independence.

There are 380 licenced community radio and television stations in Australia, with over 22,000 volunteers engaged in producing and presenting programs. Content produced is overwhelmingly local, with 34 per cent of all community radio stations are sole providers of local programming in their area.

29 per cent of all Australian radio listeners, 5.2 million, tune into community radio stations each week. Community television has a monthly metropolitan reach of 3.7 million viewers.

Community broadcasting plays a vital role in providing a voice for communities that aren’t adequately serviced by other broadcasting sectors including:

Community broadcasting services provide a diverse range of viewpoints that enrich the social and cultural fabric of Australian society and contribute to public interest outcomes.

They promote the identities of local communities, contribute to social inclusion, and provide opportunities for participation in free-to-air public broadcasting and content production.