In a bizarre twist of fate, ‘Beyond The Divide’ has been nominated as a finalist in the Antenna Awards – not long before Malcolm Turnbull pulled the plug on community television altogether, condemning the ground-breaking hunting TV show to an uncertain fate.
The Antenna Awards recognise excellence in community TV production around the country, and the winner will be announced at Federation Square in Melbourne on October 1. The awards are independently judged by a panel of industry professionals and individual programs are taken on their own merit.
Beyond The Divide has been nominated in two categories, first as Best Special Interest Program and also as Most Outstanding Outdoor Program. You can see the YouTube clips announcing the Special Interest finalists HERE and the Outdoor Program finalists HERE.
“It’s fantastic just be nominated,” said Beyond The Divide’s producer Rob Fickling, “but it would be a huge win for our passion and industry if we could get up and win it”.
“The episodes chosen are both from Series 1 and were the British Columbia episode and the episode on Fiordland,” Rob said.
The nomination was soured by subsequent news that Malcolm Turnbull plans to shut down community TV, having decided not to extend Channel 31’s licence beyond December 31, 2015. With community TV off the air, Turnbull is likely to sell the broadcast spectrum that will then be freed up to commercial interests – probably another shopping channel.
It is understood Turnbull is not supportive of community TV as he believes it has weak ratings. Matthew Field, Operations Manager for C31 TV Melbourne, disagrees. “Beyond the Divide is one of our highest rating programs and actually out-rates many programs on Foxtel, and many SBS and NITV programs,” says Matthew. “Without access to community TV the hunting community would have to approach commercial broadcasters and negotiate carriage on commercial terms – if such content was to be carried at all.
“We need the hunting community in Australia to send the message to the Minister that CTV is more than just about ratings – that it promotes freedom of speech, democratic participation and enables a variety of lifestyles and views to be seen on free to air TV.”
Hunters are encouraged to go the community TV petition website where they can register and voice their concerns with Mr Turnbull. Another way to do that is to go to Mr Turnbull’s personal blog, which is open to the public. Alternatively, write to the Minister directly and to any other relevant Federal or State politicians that may be able to help.
In any response, as a guide, please consider addressing the following points:
- A description of your understanding of the issue – that the Minister has decided not to extend C31’s licence beyond the end of 2015.
- Describe who you are or the organisation that you represent.
- Describe your relationship with community television – i.e. a viewer of Beyond The Divide, and other programs if applicable.
- Describe the value Beyond The Divide brings to the community – i.e. showcases responsible and sustainable hunting practice to a broad audience.
- That access to free-to-air broadcast spectrum is vital.
- That you’re asking him to overturn his decision not to extend C31’s licence beyond December 31, 2015.
In summary, the third season of Beyond The Divide, which is just about finalised, will go ahead as planned to air in May, but after that the future is uncertain – and we need your help to keep it on the air.