Community radio has been left wanting last night after the unveiling of the Federal Budget. The sector was hoping to receive the $1.4 million needed to cover the shortfall in upgrading to digital but instead received zilch. Adrian Basso, President of the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, spoke out against the lack of funding due to his concerns this may force community radio stations to shut down.
Basso released a statement commenting that:
“This is a disappointing outcome for all the communities who rely on community radio to provide the information, opinion and music commercial stations and the national broadcasters can’t or don’t. The community sector will now consult with its members and is seriously contemplating turning off services or networking nationally.”
The new budget means a 40% shortfall in operation costs for stations and could lead to the closure of beloved services like Melbourne’s RRR, Sydney’s FBi and Perth’s RTR. Eventually all radio will need to move to the digital network but a lack of funding may place the upgrade out of reach for community stations. Outside of independent music there are also concerns for services such as the GLBTQI community’s JOY or Indigenous 3KND who potentially will no longer be able to provide an important voice for minority groups.
Lobby group Commit to Community Radio has been campaigning the government to fund the digital transition since early 2013. They are now asking supporters to contact Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, calling on him to commit to the future of community radio.