Channel 31 has been saved from being switched off permanently after the Victorian government stepped in with funding.
The state government has granted Melbourne and Geelong’s community television channel $120,000 to assist it in transitioning to a digital model. The grant, along with lobbying from crossbench MP, Rod Barton, community groups and Melbourne city council, led to the federal government extending C31’s broadcast licence for another 12 months. The station was originally due to be switched off at 11.59pm on Tuesday, June 30 2020.
C31 were the first to bring hunting into Australian loungerooms when they supported Rob Fickling’s vision for Beyond the Divide. C31 also hosts Australian Hunting Adventures and Talking Fishing.
C31 now has a licence to broadcast until 2021, after which time it is expected to move fully online. The channel broadcasts around 100 shows per week and is an important resource for culturally and linguistically diverse Victorians, with 30 different languages represented across its programming. Its importance has become more apparent during the shutdowns as well, with C31 recording its audience growing by a quarter as viewers remotely tuned into exercise classes and religious services.
Shane Dunlop, general manager for C31, said: “We’re looking forward to using the next 12 months to continue to pivot our operations to focus on online broadcasting, and we look forward to working with producers and viewers to ensure that they can still create, distribute and access Community Television content, for many years to come.”