Inquiry into music in NSW - full report released

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 16th November 2018

The NSW Parliament yesterday tabled its report into the music and arts economy.

The CBAA, who made a submission and participated in a public hearing, welcomes the report. The report includes a number of supportive recommendations which, if adopted, would support community radio stations, live music infrastructure, programs, initiatives and funding in NSW.

The community radio section has two notable recommendations:

Recommendation 41

That the NSW Government investigate options for a cultural hub that co-locates the Music Development Office, contemporary music organisations and businesses, rehearsal and performance space, community radio, writing and recording studios and a youth venue in Inner Sydney.

Committee Comment/Recommendation 57 on Community Radio
  • The committee acknowledges the critical role that community radio plays in supporting new and emerging Australian talent, and fostering crucial links between artists and communities.
  • The committee was impressed by the community radio organisations' ability to provide such an important service with so little funding. The committee notes that community radio is regulated and funded by the Commonwealth Government, however more could be done to support local stations that are working hard to support local musicians and, in turn, our state's vibrant culture and healthy economy.
  • To ensure that New South Wales artists have access to a community radio network that is suitably resourced to promote and develop our local music scene, the committee recommends that the NSW Government allocate funding to community radio stations in New South Wales, on top of that already provided by the Commonwealth Government, either under a new community radio grants scheme or as part of the contemporary music funding package recommended at Recommendation 8. This funding would be used to meet the costs of the building new broadcast infrastructure and to foster live events and radio content that supports new music.
  • The committee further recommends that the NSW Government investigate opportunities to amend advertising guidelines to encourage government advertising on community radio stations, where appropriate.

Continuing the CBAA's sector leadership works in support of Australian music, the CBAA will be attending a public hearing on 22 November for the inquiry into the Australian music industry.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia’s (CBAA) CEO, Jon Bisset told radioinfo, “The CBAA is very pleased with the findings and recommendations of today’s report into the NSW music industry. 

"Over 100 community broadcasting stations across the state deliver vital services to support grassroots NSW and Australian music, from training and mentoring initiatives, to innovative partnerships, live broadcasts, as well as of course, consistently strong airplay. 

"Latest figures indicate that 37% of music played on community radio stations each week is Australian, cementing the key role community broadcasters play in fostering and supporting diverse music scenes.

 "The CBAA is also excited by the recommendation for $35 million in funding across four years, as well as amendments to liquor licenses, the appointment of a Minister for Music, and funding for organisations like MusicNSW. The report is recognition of the massive potential of the contemporary music sector in NSW.”

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This paper examines the changing contribution of local radio to the democratic process in Australia. It takes the whole local area approach suggested by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, to examine all the services available in three regional areas to assess their potential in facilitating public sphere discussion, disputation and deliberation, and (since the common assumption is that deregulation severely curtailed these processes) it does this in a historical frame, comparing the changes in services from 1976 to 2001. Because of its strengths in the analysis of relationships between the state (public) and private sectors, Habermas’s public sphere theory is used to frame this discussion. Recent theoretical extensions have also seen the welcome elaboration of issues of power (Fraser, 1992, 2000) and the inclusion of a new and subtle range of cultural issues (Peters, 1993; McGuigan, 1997, 2004; Keane, 1998) inside its developing literature.


In 2004 the first, national, statistically robust, quantitative assessment of the Australian community broadcasting sector’s audience reach was undertaken. Conducted by McNair Ingenuity, this research provided a major breakthrough in the wider shift to a more audience-centred approach to managing the sector. The findings, significance and implications of this research are considered here. Following recent developments in critical cultural policy studies, this paper locates this renewed concern for community broadcasting audiences within a ‘larger cycle of decision-making’ (O’Regan, Balnaves and Sternberg 2002: 2). The particular influence of developments such as the emerging spectrum market and the imminent transition to digital transmission systems is discussed. These developments are important to understanding why community broadcasting resistance to market-based conceptions of audience is being overcome, and how audience-centredness might be used to facilitate the continuing development of this ‘third’ sector of Australian broadcasting.


The community radio sector is experiencing a time of rapid growth in Australia. While community broadcasting participants generally welcome the sector’s growth, they have expressed concern over the lack of proportionate funding increase from the Federal government. The key issue is the need to find ways to enhance community radio’s sources of funding without imperilling its status as a not-for-profit sector, and as one main option, the deregulation of sponsorship time presently limited to five minutes per hour may enhance income generation for community radio. This paper argues that there is no inherent conflict between entrepreneurial principles and not-for-profit principles.