Sector Leadership Update: February 2021

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 12th February 2021
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The CBAA is pleased to provide an update on the recent policy and sector leadership efforts undertaken on behalf of community broadcasters.

The Federal Government has kicked off a number of processes to enhance media’s role in producing local information, combating misinformation and strengthening communities. These include the Government’s development of a News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, its media diversity inquiry, radiocommunications legislation amendments and more – all with which the CBAA has been actively engaging.

In this environment, our focus has been ensuring that community radio is recognised as a trusted and integral part of Australia’s media diversity. We seek for the sector an optimised funding arrangement, particularly ensuring the renewal of sector funding beyond June 2021 for digital radio, enhanced news programming, enhanced training and online services, as well as increasing the amount of funding available to stations through the Community Broadcasting Foundations’s Development and Operations fund. This will ensure the sector remains sustainable and vibrant in the aftermath of the pandemic and natural disasters. We also seek an optimised regulatory environment which enhances our sector’s impact through the embedding of best practice Governance – which includes the review of the Codes of Practice.

Review of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice

Our stations and the communities within which we operate are dynamic. The way we create news, broadcast content, and engage with our communities changes. And the places our members broadcast from look very different to each other - from the regions to our capital cities, and everywhere in between. Our sector’s communities and creators’ needs vary. 

It’s with this in mind, that the CBAA has approached the review of the Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice. 

The current, prescriptive style of Codes means that stations across our sector are presently told the way in which certain things must be done, to comply with licensing conditions enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). 

In undertaking this Codes review, the CBAA is keen to ensure the next version of the Codes contemplates and is flexible enough to enable stations to respond to current and unforeseen changes – both in society, and in terms of technology. We are keen to ensure that the diverse needs of our members are reflected in our new Codes.

Update

To meet these aims and needs, the CBAA is drafting a new Codes in a new style – a principles-based style. This will provide community broadcasters with the opportunity to better customise their own governance systems, if they desire, to better meet their unique community need. The proposed new style of Codes will look and feel a little different to the existing Codes. But at their core, the outcomes they require will remain largely consistent with the outcomes already being achieved by community radio stations under the existing Codes. 

To seek your feedback, we will be conducting open consultation with community broadcasters on a draft version of the Codes in the coming months. Your feedback, questions, and concerns will be key to the process and ensure a Codes that work best for all.

The CBAA is prioritising the delivery of the Codes as a comprehensive package, designed in a way to educate, assist and support community broadcasters. This includes comprehensive toolkits, resources, policy templates and fact sheets to help your station.

What now?

The CBAA will provide you shortly with an update on key dates and milestones, so watch this space for more.

As COVID-19 has impacted many things, it has impacted the Codes review, and we appreciate your patience through this process.

To lead the review in 2021, the CBAA has been pleased to bring on a Regulatory Policy Consultant, Dash Buxton. If you would like to know more or have comments on the CBAA’s Codes revision and development project, you are most welcome to address them to Dash Buxton via dash.buxton@cbaa.org.au in the first instance, or by calling 02 9310 2999.

The News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code

Community radio is a vital contributor to local media diversity; thus, one of our key focus areas has been our sector advocacy work with respect to the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 (The News Media Bargaining Code Bill).

The CBAA in partnership with First Nations Media Australia has continued to engage with Government regarding the News Media Bargaining Code to ensure community broadcasters are included and fairly paid for unique news content created by the sector. In December 2020, the CBAA and FNMA made a joint submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Economics Inquiry into Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Bill 2020 (The Inquiry).

If passed as law, the News Media Bargaining Code will become a mandatory code of conduct that will apply to both news media businesses, and digital platform corporations such as Google and Facebook.

The Code will mean that large news media businesses (i.e. with revenue over $150,000) can register as news businesses with the Australian Communications and Media Authority. These news businesses may then begin negotiating with digital platforms for remuneration for news content. A body, such as a licensing or peak body, could then negotiate on behalf of a sector such as the community broadcasting sector.

The CBAA and FNMA are seeking the community broadcasting sector’s inclusion in the Code and ensuring our sector and its unique contribution are recognised. You can read more and the Submissions in full on our website

Other Key Advocacy Updates

CBAA's submission to the Media Diversity inquiry Update

In December 2020, the CBAA made a formal submission to the Australian Government’s inquiry into the state of media diversity, independence and reliability in Australia. The CBAA’s submission highlighted community radio's unique role in Australia's media landscape and its contribution to news and public interest journalism, training pathways and challenges facing the sector.

The CBAA proposed several recommendations to ensure the community radio sector can be fully resourced and thrive in an optimised policy and regulatory environment. You can read more about this and the submission on our website.

CBAA's Creative Industries submission

The CBAA also made a submission regarding community radio’s role in enhancing and nurturing Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions.

The submission focused on community radio's role as a connector and nurturer of the creative and cultural industries; employment and training opportunities across the sector; challenges faced by the sector due to COVID-19; and opportunities to optimise the funding and regulatory environment within which the sector operates. Read the full CBAA Submission.

CBAA's Submission to the Federal Budget process

The CBAA continues to call on the Federal Government to ensure funding certainty and the sustainability of the community radio sector – to ensure, particularly, that stations are supported in the wake of COVID-19 and recent natural disasters.

The CBAA’s submission to the 2021-22 Federal Budget focused on:

  • The renewal and certainty of funding for community digital radio beyond 1 July 2021
  • The certainty of funding for sector wide projects (including news, training and online services) beyond 1 July 202, and 
  • An increase in funding (to $5m) towards station development and operations 

Once our submission is published by Treasury, it will be made available on our Submissions page.

Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Bill

In July 2020, the CBAA made a formal submission to Parliament on the Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Bill.

In summary, we made comments on the effects of this proposed law on community broadcasting, as well as points regarding studio-to-transmitter linking, digital radio, digital television and broadcasting and online delivery. Read our July 2020 submission, as well as additional information provided in October 2020 after our appearance at the public hearing.

CBAA submissions regarding digital radio planning

In October 2020, the CBAA provided a formal submission to the ACMA regarding the Queensland Digital Radio Channel Plan (DRCP) and declaration of a foundation Digital Radio Multiplex Transmitter (DRMT) licence for the Gold Coast. 

The CBAA outlined opportunities for the digital radio planning in these regions to expand listener choice and provide diverse media options for communities, as well as improving spectrum efficiency. Read the full CBAA submission

Contact

For any questions on anything in this update, please contact Holly Friedlander Liddicoat via holly.friedlander@cbaa.org.au or on 02 9310 2999. 

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