Community television station Channel 31 has just received notice from the Federal Minister for the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, that its free-to-air broadcast licences have been extended by six months.
Channel 31 – now known as C31 – was scheduled to go off air on December 31 after a 2014 government decision was made to close the self-funded network and bring 22 years of community television to an end.
C31 announced the reprieve on its Facebook page and Twitter account on Tuesday morning.
“We just received notice from @SenatorFifield that CTV broadcast licences have been extended by 6 months. More info to follow.”
The decision to close the station was made to free up broadcast-spectrum space to sell to commercial, free-to-air channels or subscription TV providers. Speaking to Broadsheet last month, executive producer at C31, Shane Dunlop, said the 2014 reasons for taking community stations off-air “are no longer valid, and the technical reality of what will happen to the space we occupy on the spectrum is it will lie dormant for years”.
When C31 does stop broadcasting it plans to become a non-for-profit production company with an online presence.
The channel had planned to wrap up with a 144-hour live broadcast marathon featuring current and past Channel 31 alumni. No word yet on whether, with a new, six-month-long lease on life, the event will go ahead.