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Sector Leadership Update: December 2022

Frieda Lee, 14th December 2022
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2022 was a big year in advocacy for the CBAA. We have worked hard to ensure that community broadcasting is front of mind in any government process on emergency management, news, and community resilience. We have cemented strong relationships with policy makers across the political spectrum and secured ongoing funding vital to the sector’s ability to stay on air.

The CBAA’s advocacy work is guided by three main priorities. We advocate for:

  • A sustainable funding base to support a vibrant, resilient sector,
  • A supportive regulatory and legislative environment,
  • Affordable access to DAB+ digital radio and support broadcast radio service planning.

Here is a snapshot of our advocacy efforts and impacts over 2022:


Federal Election

CBAA secured a pre-election commitment from the ALP for $12m for community broadcasting and to address a sustainable funding model for the sector. The sector is funded through the Community Broadcasting Program which maintains our sector’s funding at $20.15m for 2021/22 and $20.37m for 2022/23. Funding was due to drop back to $16m in FY24. Through establishing a strong relationship and clear communication with then-Shadow Minister Rowland’s office the CBAA was able to demonstrate the positive impact of community broadcasting and to secure a promise of $12m for community radio ($4m a year over three years), maintaining the sector’s minimum base level of funding at just over $20m per annum.

In the lead up to the election, the CBAA met with politicians on all sides to build support for community broadcasting across the parliament. Meetings were held with the offices of The Hon Michelle Rowland MP, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, The Hon Ken Wyatt MP, The Hon Bill Shorten MP, Dr Anne Webster MP, Terry Young MP, The Hon Emma McBride MP, Susan Templeman MP, Lisa Chesters MP, Russell Broadbent MP, Bridget Archer MP and The Hon Anthony Byrne MP.

We also worked together with stations who advocated with their local representatives on behalf of the sector. CBAA also secured a pre-election commitment from the Greens, who guaranteed future funding for the community broadcasting sector as part of the Greens’ policy initiative on strengthening media diversity. The Nationals also promised to ensure funding for community radio to continue to provide a “vitally important service”.


Federal Budget

As promised, the October budget provided funding certainty for community broadcasting with $88m allocated over the next four years. The Budget maintains the sector’s base funding of $16-17m per year but applies annual indexation to this amount. In addition, $4m per year is provided on a recurring basis. The community broadcasting sector also benefits from $444,000 - $448,000 per year through the Government’s Support for Community Sector Organisations. CBAA wrote to 104 stations in Government electorates to encourage stations to write to local ALP MPs to acknowledge the funding.


Sector Sustainability Review

The Government announced it would deliver a pre-election commitment at the 2022 CBAA Conference in the form of a review to identify a sustainable funding basis for the future of community broadcasting.

The review will:

  • Canvas stakeholder views and ideas through department-led consultations with the sector though the CBF and peak bodies, including the CBAA and members and guests of the Community Broadcasting Sector Roundtable.
  • Consider priorities in an evolving media landscape;
  • Identify support for First Nations broadcasting (in co-ordinations with NIAA’s review of their response to the Watson Report)
  • Examine opportunities to increase the sector’s sustainability; and
  • Consider the evaluation of the Community Broadcasting Program.

The CBAA will work closely with the Department on the review, informed by the CBF and CBAA’s joint development of a strategic roadmap for the sector.


Modernising the regulatory and legislative environment for community broadcasters

CBAA has laid the groundwork for a strong and productive relationship with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Department and the Minister’s office. We are excited to have made progress towards modernising the regulatory and legislative environment for community broadcasters. We have been working together to streamline and simplify regulatory instruments to decrease the regulatory burden on stations. Progress towards a streamlined licence renewal process has been made and we are working together to advance our legislative reform goals.

The CBAA has worked closely with the Department to ensure our sector’s views have been considered in the drafting of the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Community Radio) Bill 2022, which passed through the Parliament (December 1) with bi-partisan support. The Bill will streamline licensing, provide greater certainty for stations, and enhance the sustainability of the community broadcasting sector. The amendments to the Act will make it easier for existing community radio stations to renew their licences, removing uncertainty by ensuring it is a non-competitive process.

The Bill also allows the regulator, ACMA, to be flexible in setting renewal deadlines and in providing advanced notice of broadcasting licence commencement dates. The Hon Michelle Rowland MP labelled community broadcasters the ‘unsung heroes’ of Australian media with wide reach, diversity in programming and listenership.18 MPs and Senators from all parties addressed the Bill in Parliament. Many made an effort to thank their local station volunteers for their commitment to their local communities.

The CBAA made a submission to the ACMA’s consultation on adopting a set of principles to guide the planning of AM to FM conversions in regional radio licence areas. The submission makes some recommendations on the proposed principles and supports the continuing consideration of community radio services on a case-by-case basis, in line with the ACMA approach to broadcast spectrum planning and varying licence area plans. The submission also stresses that channels used by a long-term TCBL should not be set aside in favour of enabling AM to FM conversion. 

The CBAA also provided comments on the consultation draft of the ACMA Five-Year Spectrum Outlook 2022-27 with a specific focus on the work program for the upcoming year 2022-23. The CBAA comments are focussed primarily on optimising established planning frameworks and broadcasting, and specifically in regard to the immediate-term planning priorities for spectrum planning and licensing.

Related submissions:


Sharing the incredible work of community broadcasters in times of emergency

The last financial year has been extremely tough for many of our stations – and the staff and volunteers that power community radio. Amidst the hardship, community radio has continued to connect, inform, and comfort. Through the 2022 floods, CBAA wrote to MPs and Senators to share stories of community radio stations sharing emergency information, coordinating relief efforts and providing a hub for people in the community to seek and access vital assistance and services. CBAA made submissions to the NSW Government on the vital role played by local community broadcasters during the floods and other emergencies.

The reports released in response to the inquiries strongly recognised the critical role played by community broadcasters during the floods and made recommendations that the NSW Government work with the community broadcasting sector to identify ways in which community broadcasters could be better supported to provide critical services during natural disasters, with a view to providing the sector with adequate long-term funding.

The CBAA has produced Beyond Broadcasting: Community media response to emergencies a report that features case studies of a range of community media outlets’ response to those recent incidents; with stations including Braidwood FMVision Australia RadioUmeewarra Radio99.9 Live FM and several more. The report is being sent to Government and other stakeholders to call for recognition and support for the vital work of community broadcasters through bushfires, floods and COVID.

Related submissions:


Community journalism and local news

Local news and public interest journalism are key items on the agenda for Government and the CBAA is working hard to showcase our sector's contribution to news across Australia. Community radio is a vital source of local news and, in many communities, the only source. Our position is that if community radio stations are funded to be secure in their day-to-day operations, then they are uniquely placed to grow and innovate in the local news space. CBAA provided a submission to The Future of Regional Newspapers in a Digital World Inquiry into Australia's regional newspapers and gave evidence at the Public Hearing in February. We showcased the exciting work which stations like the Torres Strait’s 4MW and Outback Radio 2WEB are doing to bring their local newspapers back to life.

The Committee commended these new models of local news emerging in our sector and encouraged Government to support our sector to increase our capacity to fill news deserts and counter the loss of regional newspapers in communities around Australia. We highlighted the critical role our sector plays in producing independent, original, local and hyperlocal news in a submission with First Nations Media Australia (FNMA) and the Local & Independent News Association (LINA) on the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code. We were invited to take part in a roundtable discussion, where we emphasised that community broadcasters should be supported to keep pace with the ways in which people are consuming news and ensure that the vital local news produced by our sector continues to be accessible to the millions of people who rely on it to keep them informed and connected to their communities

Related submissions:


Review of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice

The consultation on the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice (the Codes) is currently underway. The sector and community at large were invited to make submissions to the consultation until December 15 2022 and the review will continue in 2023. The Codes are reviewed periodically to make sure they keep up with changing community standards and remain relevant in the contemporary media environment. It is hoped that the revised Codes will also be clearer, more flexible and less onerous for stations to comply with.


Other Submissions

Renewing a Vital Indigenous Voice and Community Asset - The Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector

The CBAA responded to the Renewing a Vital Indigenous Voice and Community Asset - The Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector report commissioned by the National Indigenous Australians Agency. We stressed the need for additional funding for First Nations stations and supported the CBF’s role in delivering grants to community media, emphasising their unique understanding of the diverse needs of our sector. We expressed our support for the report’s recommendations on the need for upgrades to infrastructure across the sector and highlighted the need for training and upskilling of technical personnel. 

Related submissions:


New National Cultural Policy submission

The CBAA made a submission to the consultation on a new National Cultural Policy. The CBAA emphasised the unique and transformative role played by community broadcasters in supporting creative and cultural industries to find an audience and build a platform for growth. We highlighted the incredible work that stations are doing to champion local arts and artists. We called for the new policy to recognise community broadcasting as an integral part of the arts and culture ecosystem in Australia.

Related submissions:


Review of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

The CBAA, FNMA and LINA prepared a joint submission reviewing the operation of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code from the perspective of independent, community-based news publishers and broadcasters. As part of the review Treasury brought the CBAA together with FNMA, LINA, the Public Interest Publishers Alliance, Minderoo Foundation, Digital Publishers Alliance, Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Australian Press Council and Google.

The CBAA outlined issues with the News Media Bargaining Code that make it difficult for small to medium media organisations to engage with the code including the absence of our Codes of Practice from the Professional Standards Test and the need for the revenue threshold to be lowered to $75,000. We explained that the burden of registering for the News Media Bargaining Code and engaging in the bargaining process is too great a barrier for community broadcasters when the potential income to be gained is unknown and the terms of the agreement may involve extra work.

We emphasised that community broadcasters should be supported to keep pace with the ways in which people are consuming news and ensure that the vital local news produced by our sector continues to be accessible to the millions of people who rely on it to keep them informed and connected to their communities. Treasury’s subsequent report highlights all the key recommendations made in our submission

Related submissions:


2022-2023 Pre-Budget Submission

Our 2022-2023 Pre-Budget Submission provides the details of the community broadcasting sector’s request that our annual allocation be increased from $20.37m to $25.37m. The additional $5m, distributed through CBF grants, would assist stations to:

  • Upgrade ageing technology
  • Create employment opportunities
  • Increase local news reporting capacity and recover from natural disasters and COVID-19.

We also highlighted the value that $5m would have in providing stations with a strong base from which to adapt and innovate - supporting their communities when they need it most.

Related submissions:


Development of a National Anti-Racism Framework

The CBAA has made recommendations to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s consultation on the development of a National Anti-Racism Framework. We have voiced our support for the development of a Framework and suggested the need for a Guiding Principle about diverse voices being meaningfully and significantly represented in the media as well as a National Outcome regarding inclusion, participation and access to media. The Commission has released its National Anti-Racism Framework Scoping Report echoing our submission in highlighting the importance of the community-controlled media sector in terms of the role it can play in fostering inclusion and leadership. 

Related submissions:


More submissions from 2022 can be accessed via our Submissions Page.


Questions?

For questions about this update, please contact Policy Advisor Frieda Lee via frieda.lee@cbaa.org.au or on 02 9310 2999.

 

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