Melbourne Community Television Consortium Ltd (ACN 104 562 076) is a not-for-profit public company limited by guarantee. It holds the community television licence allocated to serve the general community within the Greater Melbourne and Geelong licence area, and operates the television service broadcast as C31.
The Melbourne Community Television Consortium was formed in 1990 to lobby for the allocation of a trial community broadcasting licence in Melbourne. The consortium was initially comprised of several groups which had conducted brief, short range test broadcasts in the late 1980s. Licensing of community TV broadcasters commenced in early 1994, under a Temporary Open Narrowcast licence.
C31 began regular broadcasting on 6 October 1994. Initially the station only broadcast programs for a few hours each evening, and on three or four days per week. This soon expanded to a seven day a week service for six hours per night, with the remaining time filled with the ever popular FishCam. 2001 saw the station commence daytime broadcasting, and 24 hour programming began in 2004 with the implementation of a server-based playout system.
Legislation to allow for permanent licensing of community television services was introduced in 2002, and C31 was allocated the permanent licence for Melbourne in 2004.
C31 currently broadcasts over 90 first-run locally produced programs each week. The station has a cumulative audience of around 1 million viewers each month; this is approximately one quarter of the population of Melbourne and Geelong. The consortium has over 40 member and associate organisations covering a wide range of communities of interest.
Unlike the ABC and the SBS, community television is not government funded. C31 raises most of its revenue from sales of sponsorship announcements and by charging airtime access fees for some programs. In this way, C31 is financially self-sufficient and is able to give free access to airtime for the programs produced by its member and affiliate organisations.
C31 is broadcast as a digital signal from Mt Dandenong on UHF channel 32 (557.625Mhz on band IV), with a translator service in the South Yarra area on UHF channel 66 (795.5 MHz on Band V). The station's call-sign is MGV-32.
Melbourne Community Television Consortium Ltd holds a permanent Community Television Broadcasting Licence (Service Licence SL1150808).
The licence is subject to the conditions set out in Parts 2 and 5 of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The key conditions include:
C31's community of interest is defined in the licence as the General Geographic Area of the Licence Area.
The Licence Area of the station is the Melbourne TV1 licence area, encompassing the Greater Melbourne and Geelong region. A map of the Licence Area can be found here.
Community Television Broadcasting licences are subject to renewal by the ACMA every five years. First issued in 2004, C31's licence was most recently renewed in 2009 for a further period of five years ending 31 July 2014.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires community television licensees to develop and follow Codes of Practice. The codes cover such matters as governance, complaint handling, programming, classification and sponsorship.
The current version of the Community Television Codes of Practice can be downloaded here.
There are two ways that organisations can be part of Melbourne Community Television Consortium Ltd: they can become a Member of the company, or they can be an Associate Organisation.
Members and Associate Organisations must be not-for-profit organisations based within the licence area of the C31 television service (Greater Melbourne and Geelong). Usually Members and Associate Organisations are incorporated associations registered with Consumer Affairs Victoria under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981. Incorporated associations are by definition not-for-profit organisations. Organisations with different corporate structures may need to include a specific provision in their constitution ensuring their not-for-profit status.
Member organisations are focused on providing television access to a specific community of interest or a geographical region. They are required to be open, democratic organisations, which allow their members to produce programs and access airtime on C31, and have access to decision making bodies both within their own organisation and C31.
Member organisations must have an on-going ability to produce local community television programming, to ensure that they are effectively serving their community and allowing members of their community to participate.
Associate Organisations are not-for-profit organisations which do not meet the requirements to become a Member of the company but still wish to participate in community television. Associate Organisations may be organisations which do not have community television production as their primary goal. Organisations newly joining the consortium usually begin as Associate Organisations while they build up their own membership and ability to produce locally made television content.
Member organisations are guaranteed access to two half-hour program timeslots per week for first-run, locally produced programming. Associate Organisations are guaranteed access to one half-hour timeslot per week for first-run programming.
A Member organisation is able to appoint a person as act as its representative at Assembly meetings.
Annual fees are currently $300 for Members and $240 for Affiliates.
Individuals wishing to become involved in community television can either become a member of an existing Member or Associate Organisation which covers their community of interest, or they can join with like-minded people to start a new Member or Associate Organisation.
The Finance Committee is appointed by the Board of Directors.
The Finance Committee shall, in accordance with the Consortium's Accounting and Financial Policy:
The Finance Committee currently meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
The current Chair of the Finance Committee is Megan Velo.
The Programming Committee consists of three members appointed by the Assembly, and three members appointed by the Board of Directors (with no more than one person from any Member or Associate).
The General Manager of the station and members of the Programming Team participate in committee meetings in an ex-officio, non-voting capacity.
The role of the Programming Committee is to:
The Governance Committee oversees the governance of the company to ensure that its governance structures and operations comply with the station's licence conditions and the CTV Codes of Practice.
The Committee advises the Board on co-options of directors with expertise in specific areas required to run the company. The Committee also provides assessment of the effectiveness of the Board and other committees.
It meets on an ad-hoc, as required basis.
The current members of the Governance Committee are Mike Zafiropoulos and Terry Flander.