Bush gets access

STATE Government support for a proposal to carry the Access 31 signal on the Westlink satellite service in regional areas will give country audiences the chance to watch locally developed content and explore the possiblity of locally managed television stations.

Westlink satellite operator, the Department of Contract and Management Services, has offered to carry the Access 31 signal at no charge during evenings and weekends for the remaining two and a half years of its contract with the Optus Satellite service.

Access 31 programming from Perth could be supplemented by regional content produced in regional centres throughout WA.

Access 31 chairman Bill McGinnis said a number of rural shires had approached the Perth service asking for its community-based content to be extended to their communities.

“We’re not a network, our aim is to put programming out and places which have got the facility to produce programming with local material we can help,” Mr McGinnis said.

“In the long run they should really take out their own community television licence...we are really about putting TV back into the hands of the people.”

Mr McGinnis said in the interim period Access 31 would include any appropriate regional mat-erial that Access 31 received from country areas.

“I think this shows great imagination and understanding from this government, hopefully we can find a way to make it work within the regulations,” Mr McGinnis said.

“It will probably have to be driven from the bush.”

City of Bunbury manager of economic development and marketing Anthony Blee said the City of Bunbury had applied to the Australian Broadcasting Authority to use the retransmission facility and to change the spectrum to retransmit community television but had not received a response.

“We can either go with existing programming like Access 31 or set up our own community television station,” Mr Blee said.

“One advantage is the trotting. Bunbury Trotting Club is very interested, the trotting and racing industry down here is very big and we have an ECU campus here and it may well be there is some collaboration there and private operators are interested.”

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