Community television in Australia

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Australia's Community Television is a form of Citizen media much like Public Access Television in the United States and the Community Channel in Canada. In principle, community television is another model of facilitating media production and involvement by private citizens.


In the early 1970s, the Australia Council worked together with various community groups to establish a number of video production centres that could be used to produce Australian television programs. Many people began using these production centres, as well as their own resources, to make television programs. It was still difficult for these programs to be screened on commercial or government-funded television. It has been suggested that this was because the programs were thought to be too short, long or different from the programs already showing.

Whilst community radio stations were quickly established around Australia, community television took longer to develop. During 1984, a Perth based community group unsuccessfully applied for a community television licence. In the late 1980s in Alice Springs, Imparja Television (now a commercial station) was established. In 1987, RMITV was set up by students at RMIT University in Melbourne. This became the first community television station to receive a test transmission permit.

In 1992, the Government asked the ABA to conduct a trial of community television using the vacant sixth television channel (UHF 31 in capital cities). Community television services have been provided on a trial basis since 1994 under the open narrowcast 'class licence'. These licences are issued on the condition that they are used only for community and educational non-profit purposes. Currently, these class licences are held in Melbourne, Brisbane, Lismore and Adelaide.

In 2002, the legislation was changed to introduce new community television licences and in 2004 the first licences were issued in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane.


Australia has a special type of broadcasting licence for community television which is available via free-to-air terrestrial reception. Holders of a Community Television (CTV) licence must conform to various rules, primarily relating to advertising and to a lesser extent, program content. They are licensed by, and regulated by, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In the strictest sense of the term, Australian Community TV is these officially licensed stations and their programming. However, there are a number of stations and distributors that release similar content - but they are not subject to government regulation.


Currently the following TV stations have Community Television Licences; 44 Adelaide, 31 Brisbane, C31 Melbourne, West TV, TVS Sydney, LINCTV Lismore, Bushvision Mount Gambier. In Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and the remote communities, the stations have ongoing licences. The stations in Adelaide, Lismore and Mount Gambier currently have trial licences.

Other quasi community television channels include Aurora Community TV, Ballarat Community Cable TV, ChannelVision (in Canberra), Goolarri TV (in Broome), Indigenous Community Television, iTV64 (in Darwin), Satellite Community TV, TVNI (on Norfolk Island) and Westlink (in regional Western Australia). Other distributors of this style of programming include YouTube and Google Video.

Community support[edit]

Community television programs are most often made by amateurs about their own communities and special and diverse interests. In other cases, companies produce the programs. The sector is represented by the Australian Community Television Alliance.

Community TV is funded by a mixture of sponsorship, subscriptions and donations, membership fees, grants, merchandise sales and sale of air time to program providers. It receives no regular national government funding. Many programs are paid for by the producers themselves.

The audience reach is over 5 million Australians, based on surveys, research and ratings (2001-2004) [1].

The Antenna Awards were established in 2004 and have been announced in each of the subsequent years. [1] Melbourne Community Television Consortium and Community Broadcasting Association of Australia Information Kit: Community Television in Australia 2004

A special emphasis of community TV is the provision of programs in an increasing range of community languages and about community cultures. Over twenty languages groups, many from newly migrant and refugee communities, are broadcast regularly by the CTV stations. Australian Community Television producers are often also producers of other community media. Examples are: SYN and Arts Community Television.

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