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A glimmer of hope for Channel 31 as it battles to remain on air

A glimmer of hope has emerged in Channel 31’s battle to remain on air, but the community broadcaster says it will cease altogether if its television licence is not extended.

Victoria’s Channel 31 and Adelaide’s Channel 44 were both due to be taken off air on June 30, but Channel 44 has been granted a 12 month extension by the Federal Government.

General Manager of Channel 31, Shane Dunlop, says Channel 44’s licence extension offers a faint spark of hope for Channel 31.

He says the Victorian station hasn’t been granted the same extension because it doesn’t have the backing of powerful politicians, like the South Australia broadcaster does.

“It looks to be because of the fact that there are several prominent crossbenchers in South Australia that they’ve been able to negotiate a 12 month extension for Adelaide,” he explained to Tom Elliott.

Mr Dunlop said the reason the community broadcaster was initially slated to come off the air on June 30 no longer applies.

“We’ve been in this battle now for about six years,” he said.

“The reason why they wanted to remove us in the first place was to test new broadcast technologies that the commercial networks would eventually adopt.

“Those technologies were tested in 2018, in the vacant markets that our sister stations in Sydney and Brisbane left behind when they went off the air, and the reality is that the commercial chose not to migrate to those technologies!

“So the original reason that [Malcolm] Turnbull more or less wanted to move us all on the internet for is now null and void.”

The federal government has recommended the public broadcaster switch to an online stream after June 30, but that isn’t financially viable not-for-profit service.

“The business realities of the current landscape as they are right now will just make that an impossible feat,” Mr Dunlop said.

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