Local News at Your Fingertips

The future of 5 THE FM and over 300 community radio stations under threat

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by S Lowe 5 THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow

5THE FM celebrates 21 years of broadcasting this year and if the recommendations for the coming budget are accepted, it could signal the end of community radio across Australia. The following press release, issued yesterday by Community Radio’s governing body, the CBAA, advises the recommendations, if accepted, will have devastating results for the hundreds of community radio stations around Australia.

The recommendations are – to scrap all funding for Community Radio across the nation.

On Saturday I sat at Fosters selling raffle tickets for the station’s  Mother’s Day raffle, and a listener came up to me and said – “Your radio station saved my life, when I was fighting for my life in hospital, your station saved my life. One of your presenters played ‘one day at a time’ every day and I listened to that every day, thinking I can make it through this day and keep going – and I am still here now and listen every day.’

We receive similar comments from time to time and it is because of the personal relationship the listener has with people they know on the air.

5 THE FM  recovered from almost certain closure  10 years ago, with the assistance of local Solicitor Boyd Groeneveld as Chairman and John McLoughlin overseeing and advising finance and the installation of stable management.

During this time 5 THE FM:-

  • has been judged ‘The Most Outstanding Small Station in Australia 2012-13,
  • were finalists in 2013 and 2014 National awards in categories of Most Outstanding Volunteer, Most Outstanding Trainer, Most Outstanding Community  Involvement ( Initiating the Public Meeting to Save the Obstetric and Hospital Services 2013),
  • SACBA Awards (State) Most Outstanding Station Promo, runner up in Best Blooper.
  • renewal of 5 year licence twice
  • secured a lease on property housing the station, to secure its future
  • is an entrant in State Awards 2014


Broadcasting Qualifications held by station personnel :
Rebekah Lowe Vice Chair – Certificate IV in Radio Broadcasting, Certificate in Voice Work, Bachelor in Media Communications (current)
Sheryl Lowe Manager – Certificate III in Screen and Media
Julianne McDuff Presenter– Certificate III in Screen and Media
Courtney McIntyre Presenter – Introduction to Radio Broadcasting
Nathan McDuff Presenter – completion of Cert III Screen and Media

Fourteen volunteers from 5 THE FM attended various modules in Cert III in Screen and Media, with four completing all of them. Some have continued on to University in Media and other related fields.

The Certificate III in Screen and Media course run at 5 THE FM was made possible by funding through the Community Broadcasting Foundation ( CBF) (commonwealth funding for training with in the sector).

5THE FM has been totally reburbished, which includes three new studios, library and administration, new antenna, transmitter, live broadcast in the streets of Millicent and Beachport, Outside Broadcast Geltwood, Anzac Day Services 2013/14, facilitates work experience students, supports local, national and global communities, provides local information and entertainment, provides additional local news on the news site wattlerangenow.com.au,  and much more.

While the recommendations have not yet been accepted, it does send a clear message that there will probably be no additional funding. If the recommendations are accepted in full or in part,  5 THE FM will rely even more so on local business and community support to continue its valuable role in this community.

5THE FM’s management and staff are unpaid. Sales staff sometimes receive a small commission on sales.

The CBAA press release follows:

Community radio at risk under audit cuts

Community radio stations across the country could be forced off air if the Commission of Audit recommendation to scrap funding for the Community Broadcasting Program is accepted by the Government.

Community Broadcasting Association of Australia President Adrian Basso said the recommendation, if adopted, would put stations right across the country at serious risk.

“The recommendation from the Commission of Audit shows a complete lack of understanding of the community broadcasting sector and the significant contribution it makes to media diversity in the country,” Mr Basso said.

“For local communities, community broadcasting is vital. It plays a crucial role in providing a voice for communities that aren’t adequately serviced by other broadcasting sectors including Indigenous Australians, ethnic communities, the print and vision impaired, young people and seniors.

“We’re hopeful that the Federal Government will see this recommendation for what it is – a sure fire way to undo the vital work community broadcasting has done to promote the identities of local communities and the invaluable contribution it makes to social inclusion.

“If the Government were to adopt this recommendation it would cripple the community broadcasting sector’s operations and development and leave millions of Australians without access to the media content they rely on.

“We are hopeful that the Federal Government will recognise the vital importance of keeping our community radio stations on the air.

“The community broadcasting sector is a smart investment: for every dollar the government puts in, the social outcome is huge.”

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Local South-East media speak with Mr Abbott

5 THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe interviewing with Mr Abbott during his visit to Millicent 2013

During Mr Abbott’s visit to Millicent 2013 – 5 THE FM’s Rebekah Lowe asked Mr Abbott what would he do for Community Radio if he became Prime Minister and he said, ‘ That’s a good question and one that I am not very informed about, but I can say that I will not do any less than what is being done currently.’

We are hopeful that the Prime Minister will see a way around these recommendations and they will not be accepted.


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