Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has expressed alarm at a proposal by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to cut spectrum from community TV broadcasters.
Turnbull said at RadComms conference in Sydney last week he is considering a second Digital Dividend auction for spectrum currently used by community TV in Australian capital cities.
“Ripping the spectrum off community TV is precisely the wrong way to go. In the context of a brutal budget, Mr Turnbull managed to do the right thing by the nation’s community radio broadcasters and keep them on air. Community TV deserves the same respect,” Ludlam said in a statement.
Turnbull suggested TV broadcasters move to an over-the-top Internet-based model for content distribution, and instead use the “sixth channel” spectrum for mobile broadband.
The government plans to extend community TV licences until the end of 2015, and then community TV broadcasters will have to move to the Internet, Turnbull said.
“The minister is right that the future of the nation’s TV broadcasters is online, but there is one small catch: The rolling NBN debacle makes any transition by 2015 out of the question. The network speeds simply aren’t there,” Ludlam argued.
The Greens said community TV is important to media diversity and provides training and skills development to the sector.