In Western Australia, Donnybrook Balingup Community Radio's Tony Wright and Barry Green, with the Hon Alannah MacTiernan, WA Minister for Regional Development.

Sector Leadership Update: July 2020

Holly Friedlander Liddicoat, 10th July 2020
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While in some parts of the country it feels a little bit ‘out of the woods’ with staff and volunteers cautiously and safely returning to studios, this week also sees Melbourne returning to Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions from 11.59 pm Wednesday, 8 July.

This summary of restrictions provides details for Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Broadcasters can access Support Act’s Wellbeing Helpline – Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief and support to musicians and music workers. Community radio workers can also join our Community Radio COVID-19 Response Group on Facebook for community support. We’re still updating our online resources with the latest – including NFP Law’s answers to questions regarding managing permanent and casual employees, and volunteers, throughout the pandemic.

COVID-19 Support Measures

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CBAA has been working closely with stations, the Community Broadcasting Foundation, Sector Representative Organisations and others to understand the full effects of the crisis. This has included a number of specific CBF grant support measures recommended by the CBAA/CBF Crisis Taskforce, announced by the CBF in April.

Since then we have been working with Government to advance support for the sector. Our two most urgent priorities include calling for an increase in funding to the CBF to assist stations through the COVID-19 Crisis Fund, as well as ensuring that stations receive adequate support to broadcast Government health information. Dialogue is positive and ongoing.

As a member of the Charities Crisis Cabinet, co-Chaired by Rev Tim Costello AO and Susan Pascoe AM, we have been working collaboratively to ensure Government measures extend to not-for-profits and charities. There has been positive momentum with the Assistant Charities Minister, as seen through the lowering of requirements for charities in their applications for JobKeeper.

Government Advertising and COVID-19 Government Health Campaign

In good news for regional stations, the Government has recognised the financial impact of COVID-19 (and the culmination of bushfires and drought) on our regional broadcasters, and has submitted the Parliamentary Business Resources Amendment (Office Expenses No. 2) Regulations 2020.

Before the changes, MPs office expenses could “not be used to pay for production or placement of content for broadcasting on television or radio.”

These changes enable Federal MPs (MPs only) representing a rural or provincial electorate to now use their office expenses to communicate with constituents using community, commercial and/or open narrowcasting radio. The CBAA will shortly be emailing regional MPs and stations with more info.

Further, the CBAA has made a submission to the Senate’s inquiry into COVID-19, outlining the Government’s underutilisation of the community broadcasting sector in the COVID-19 public health campaigns.

The CBAA is working with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, the Department of Health and the Federal Government’s Master Media Agency, Universal McCann, to increase the spend by Government on community radio.

What else has happened recently?

The CBAA continues to seek increased support for community broadcasters affected by the recent fires, by making submissions to both the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements and the Finance and Public Administration References Committee's inquiry into lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019-20.

The CBAA and First Nations Media Australia made a joint submission to the ACCC’s Concepts Paper on a Mandatory News Media Bargaining Code, highlighting the need to ensure community and First Nations media organisations are recognised in an effectual bargaining framework with Google and Facebook regarding news content.

What's on the horizon?

The CBAA will be making submissions to ACMA’s consultation regarding “Proposed deeming principles for regional radio licence areas” and the Department’s consultation regarding the “Exposure draft of Radiocommunications Legislation Amendment (Reform and Modernisation) Bill”.

As always, please contact Holly Friedlander Liddicoat (Project Coordinator, Government Relations) with any input, feedback or support.

Braidwood FM with Darren Marks (RFS)

"When it comes to community radio... it’s vital as a service there in Braidwood and I have no doubt that during the fires you were absolutely relied upon, because it’s local, committed people, largely volunteers." Anthony Albanese, Braidwoowd FM

During the Eden-Monaro by-election, Braidwood FM (pictured) questioned Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese on key regional issues, as did The Sounds of the Mountains, who also interviewed the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. 

"Before we get going, can I thank you for everything you did, particularly back over the Black Summer...I know the job you did over that period of time. It's been reported back to me by so many. I know how many of your listeners would be so appreciative, but just want you to know that we're very appreciative of the great service you provided as well." Scott Morrison, The Sounds of the Mountains

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*Past webinar, click through to watch recording.*

The latest in our special series of webinars dealing with COVID-19 will provide an overview of the sector's call to politicians for increased support, new funding opportunities available to stations and other measures in place to assist stations through uncertain times.