Sector Leadership Update: December 2021

Frieda Lee, 15th December 2021
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The end of 2021 is fast approaching, and the CBAA is gearing up for the Federal Election next year. In the face of income disruption (not to mention floods, fires, earthquakes, storms, the pandemic and a mouse plague) our sector has continued to grow and innovate to support and connect our communities when they’ve needed it most.

The CBAA works hard to ensure that policy makers – across the political spectrum – are aware of the vital role community radio plays in serving our communities. We advocate for more funding to enhance our impact, affordable access to digital and broadcast infrastructure and a supportive regulatory and legislative environment so that stations are adequately resourced and can focus on the work that matters without tripping over unnecessary red tape.

Here is a snapshot of our advocacy efforts and impacts since the last sector leadership update in August.

Upcoming Federal Election

Since the last election, community radio stations have done amazing work - connecting people most isolated through COVID-19, providing health messages in languages other than English and producing emergency broadcasts in 80 regions around Australia through Black Summer. Our sector receives $20m per annum through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and distributed by the Community Broadcasting Foundation. We’re seeking an additional $5m funding to directly support station operations, salaries, infrastructure and development.

We will be meeting with Government in the new year to secure this support for the sector.

What can stations do?

Stations, it’s important that you are connecting with your local MPs, Senators and candidates in the lead up to the Election, so they know why you are so important to your community and how Federal Government funding supports your station.

We’ve put together this webinar and help sheet to help you speak to candidates and ask them what their policy is on funding community radio. We are here to support you if you need help – contact our Head of Advocacy and Communications, Holly Friedlander Liddicoat via holly.friedlander@cbaa.org.au or our Policy Advisor Frieda Lee via frieda.lee@cbaa.org.au or on 02 9310 2999.

Consultations

Updated B66 Licence Renewal Form

In October, the ACMA updated their B66 Licence Renewal Form. The CBAA worked closely with the ACMA and other sector bodies to streamline the form and make it faster and easier for stations to complete. The new form has fewer and more carefully targeted questions. Questions that created an unnecessarily high administrative burden have been changed or replaced and the new requirements are clearer and more flexible. Get resources to support your renewal, including a webinar with guest speakers, the ACMA.

New TCBL Guidelines

In November, the ACMA updated their Temporary Community Broadcasting Licence Guidelines to make them more consistent with the framework that came out of their Future Delivery of Radio report. We had made a submission expressing our concern over wording changes that seemed to lower expectations as to the granting of subsequent TCBLs and called for greater certainty for TCBL holders. We highlighted the need for resources to be allocated to radio licence area planning and voiced support for the ACMA’s existing policy that AM to FM conversion for a commercial broadcaster should not result in another service being adversely impacted.

We’ll watch carefully over the next twelve months to see how the guidelines impact the availability of spectrum and allocation of TCBLs. Please let us know if you encounter any issues that we should be aware of. Access the guidelines.

Proposal to vary the Queensland digital radio channel plan

Affordable access to DAB+ digital radio for community broadcasters is a key policy priority for the CBAA and we work closely with government and industry on the issue. In August the CBAA provided feedback to the ACMA consultation on the Queensland Digital Radio Channel Plan (DRCP). Read our submission.

ACNC Amendment (2021 Measures No. 3) Regulations 2021

We made recommendations to the Treasury consultation on the exposure draft of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Amendment (2021 Measures No. 3) Regulations 2021 geared at reducing red tape for, and increasing the transparency of, the charity sector. The CBAA expressed our support for higher annual revenue thresholds and recommended that thresholds be harmonised across all jurisdictions. Read our submission.

Broadcasting Services (Remote Indigenous Communities) Determination 2011

The CBAA joined with First Nations Media Australia to state the continuing need for the Broadcasting Services (Remote Indigenous Communities) Determination 2011 ahead of it sunsetting on 1 April 2022. We highlighted the vital role First Nations Media plays in strengthening remote communities through the sharing of local content; production and broadcasting of hyperlocal news; and, by providing employment, training and pathways for broadcasters, artists and young people living in remote communities. Read our letter to the ACMA.

Other Key Advocacy Updates

Government advertising spend

The CBAA is strategising with other sector bodies and Spots & Space to increase government advertising spend with community radio. Our priority is for government/s to recognise the value of community broadcasting in addressing particular social and cultural needs and its significance as Australia’s largest independent media sector. We want to ensure that relevant sector data is utilised by government media agencies and we want a positive obligation for the community radio sector to be considered on its merits at the time when government advertising/sponsorship is placed.

While our focus has traditionally been on increasing Federal Government spend, we are also exploring what state-based campaigns could be rolled out from 2022.

Information sharing through the ACNC Charity Passport

As more than 50% of our sector are registered charities, we have been advocating for an alignment between the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and the ACMA reporting requirements, with relevant information shared via the ACNC Charity Passport. Sharing this information would reduce the administrative burden for our members who are registered charities. The Community Council of Australia kindly fed our question on the Charity Passport through to Senators ahead of Senate Estimates. The Christian Media and Arts Australia has helped to rally the ACNC to action. We have connected the ACNC with the ACMA to discuss the issue and hope to see some movement in 2022.

Proposed changes to the ACNC Governance Standards disallowed

The CBAA has been working closely with the Hands off our Charities coalition to advocate against proposed changes to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013 which would have increased red tape for charities and made it easier for a charity to be deregistered. Last month we welcomed news that the changes to Governance Standard Three were disallowed by a vote in the Senate. 

Review of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice

We are in the final stages of the Codes of Practice redraft. We expect to go out to public consultation early next year and submit a final version of the Codes to the ACMA for inclusion in the Register of Codes of Practice by the end of 2022. The ACMA’s sub-committee has formally reviewed our current draft and will reconvene their sub-committee in February for a second formal review.

The consultation draft is taking shape and it is hoped that the revised Codes will be clearer, more flexible and less onerous for stations to comply with. The CBAA is grateful to the ACMA for their collaboration to give the sector scope for flexibility to meet individual community needs, and to the Codes Advisory Committee for lending their specialist expertise and sector knowledge.

 

Questions?

For questions about this update, please contact our Head of Advocacy and Communications, Holly Friedlander Liddicoat via holly.friedlander@cbaa.org.au or our Policy Advisor Frieda Lee via frieda.lee@cbaa.org.au or on 02 9310 2999.

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