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:
- A community television licensee must not broadcast advertisements; but may broadcast up to seven minutes per hour of sponsorship announcements.
- The licensee will continue to represent the community interest that it represented at the time when the licence was allocated or was last renewed.
- The licensee will encourage members of the community that it serves to participate in the operations of the licensee in providing the service, and the selection and provision of programs under the licence.
- The licensee will provide the service or services for community purposes.
- The licensee will not operate the service or services for profit or as part of a profit-making enterprise.
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.