Channel 44: Adelaide community TV station prepares to leave the airwaves and go online-only
Operators of Adelaide’s community television station Channel 44 say they are facing an uncertain future by transitioning to an internet-only service.
Channel 44 is preparing for the shift along with other stations Australia-wide after the Federal Government chose to provide more opportunities for commercial stations.
The station started as ACE TV more than 20 years ago, morphed into Channel 31 and then became 44 with the advent of digital TV.
But due to 2014 a decision by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his former role as communication minister, community stations must switch to online only to clear broadcast space for commercial operators.
“It’s a sad decision,” Channel 44 general manager Lauren Hillman said.
“It seems a very unfair decision because all of the people that get their start in community television, especially all of the volunteers, there won’t be that opportunity for them any more beyond 2016.”
Community TV has trained many mainstream stars including Waleed Aly and Hamish Blake.
But the Sydney station has already closed with Melbourne soon to follow.
Channel 44 is still on free-to-air but has already launched its online channel or website.
Ms Hillman is determined to make it financially viable.
“It’s so important to give young people a voice, but not just young people, a wide range of people in our community, from all different walks of life and all different groups,” she said.
For Channel 44 presenter Malcolm Harslett who presents a show for baby boomers, it will be about whether a dedicated audience can become technologically savvy.
“Using a smart phone or android phone to download programs or a tablet to download programs, hmmm, is my age group ready for that?” he said.
“We’ll have to be if we want to continue to watch.
But another presenter, Lucy Rasheed, can see the possibilities.
“I love the fact that someone can be sitting in England now and watch Channel 44,” she said.
“I think that opens up more opportunities.”