Access 31

Infobox TV channel
name = Access 31
logofile = Access 31.svg
logosize = 180px
logoalt = Access 31 logo
launch = June 18, 1999
closed date = August 6, 2008
picture format = Analogue 4:3
owner = Channel 31 Community
Educational Television Limited
web = [http://accesstvwa.com/ accesstvwa.com]
broadcast area = Perth and regional WA
terr serv 1 = Analogue
terr chan 1 = UHF 31 ()
sat serv 1 = Optus Aurora
sat chan 1 = Transponder 6

Access 31 (call letters ATW-31) was a free-to-air community television station based in Perth, Australia which had broadcast on UHF 31 from the ABC's television mast at Bickley in the Perth Hills. It was also available at certain times on the Westlink Network, which is broadcast via the Optus Aurora rural satellite service throughout Western Australia, and on transmitters in Albany and Bunbury.

History

Access 31 started broadcasting on 18 June 1999, and received a permanent broadcasting licence in 2002. The station was originally based at the Mt Lawley campus of Edith Cowan University before moving to premises in Belmont in late 2003. [ [http://www.accesstvwa.com/tech_op/01_tech-op.html TECHNICAL, OPERATIONS, FACILITIES] ]

Access 31 had complemented existing television services in the state with an emphasis on locally produced programming, and at its height drew in a viewing audience in excess of 800,000 different people per month, competing favorably against other television networks. However, as householders move to digital television, Access 31's audience reach became progressively reduced as no support or access to the digital broadcasting spectrum has yet been allocated to community Channel 31 stations by the Australian Federal Government. [ [http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=77&ContentID=78366 Access 31 looking to a digital future for survival] ] With ramifications for future advertising revenue, in June 2008 the station announced that it was in serious danger of closing due to insolvency unless additional funding could be obtained and a guarantee for future access to digital television services from the Federal Government could be secured. [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23849420-5006789,00.html Access 31's final cry for help] ]

A grant from Lotterywest and a financial contribution from Garry Baverstock, a Perth architect totaling $750,000 had been planned to keep the station on the air for at least the next 18 months, time the station's board believed will see action from the Federal Government. [ [http://www.tvtonight.com.au/2008/07/access-31-saved-by-donation.html Access 31 saved by donation] ] [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,23962444-948,00.html Access 31 to stay afloat with financial lifeline] ] However the station was also forced to cut jobs and volunteer numbers, in addition to limiting broadcast hours and in-house production of programs in order to keep the station afloat for the time being. [http://perth.norg.com.au/2008/07/17/access-31-snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-vict/ Access 31 - snatching defeat from the jaws of vict] ] [ [http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,23977933-7582,00.html?from=public_rss Access 31 community TV station to cut costs by 30pc] ] Later it was revealed that a total of $1.3 million was required to keep the station operating until December 2009, when it was thought the Federal Government would provide a rescue package. [http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/access-31-staff-rally-for-bailout-20080807-3rgu.html Access 31 staff rally for bail-out] ]

Closure

At 5pm (AWST) on August 6, 2008, Access 31 ceased transmission after both the Lotterywest grant and the private contribution was withdrawn. [http://www.australian-media.com.au/index.php?c=home&p=news&article=11245 Access 31 has closed down] , "Australian-Media.com.au"] [ [http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=2&ContentID=89589 Access 31 shut down] ] CEO Andrew Brine had resigned the previous day, [ [http://www.watoday.com.au/entertainment/access-31-ceo-brine-resigns-20080805-3q8t.html Access 31 CEO Brine resigns] , "WAToday.com.au"] the station unable to pay his salary. Program providers were not informed of the decision to close the station. [ [http://www.wakeupwa.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=164 Access 31 shuts doors in shock move] ]

Fred Mafrica, host and producer of "The Couch" - one of the station's more popular programs, offered to run the station for free on a temporary basis, backed by almost 100 vounteers, while also appealing for help from the state government. Ma Xi Bo, owner of local media company Perth Chinese Media Group, also presented an offer to return the station back on the air, [ [http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=77&ContentID=94799 Chinese businessman may save Channel 31] ] as did a consortium of local producers and business people aligned with Murdoch University. [ [http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=77&ContentID=95215 Rescuers compete to save community TV station] ] Ultimately, on September 1, 2008 the station's board voted to liquidate Access 31's assets in order to pay off an estimated $600,000 in debts. [ [http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=2&ContentID=95433 End of road for Access 31] ] The Australian Communications and Media Authority canceled the station's broadcasting licence later that month. [ [http://www.watoday.com.au/entertainment/access-31s-licence-cancelled-20080922-4lib.html Access 31's licence cancelled] ]

Programming

Access 31 had broadcast a number of popular local programs including "Wake Up! WA", a breakfast show broadcast live daily, "WAFL On", which focused on the West Australian Football League, "Charlie's Kitchen", a cooking show, "Sweet and Sour", a discussion panel program and "The Couch", a chat/variety show that also features live performances from up and coming local musicians. The station also carried a number of programs originally produced at other Channel 31 stations in other states.

Access 31 also had broadcast old movies, classic television shows and programming and current news bulletins sourced from Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and BBC World News.

After its closure, a small number of Access 31's locally produced shows secured broadcast slots on Foxtel's Aurora Community Channel. [ [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,24330317-5005382,00.html Access 31 shows moving to FOXTEL's Aurora Channel] ]

Controversy

Access 31 previously faced closure in 2003, when the station went into voluntary administration. [ [http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,23925191-2761,00.html Access 31 'buys another week' on air] ] The station had faced criticism for alleged mismanagement of their finances for years. [ [http://perth.norg.com.au/2008/06/26/access-31-don%E2%80%99t-throw-good-money-after-bad/ Access 31: Don’t throw good money after bad] ] Garry Baverstock, who pledged $500,000 to rescue the station before withdrawing his offer, claimed that he was misled about the station's financial position. [ [http://perth.norg.com.au/2008/08/15/community-tv-stations-awaiting-conroy-digital-plan/ Community TV stations awaiting Conroy digital plan] ]

In the weeks before its closure, the station claimed that the Federal Government had committed to community digital television after Access 31 was rescued, [ [http://www.accesstvwa.com/news_comps/01_news.html THE FUTURE OF ACCESS 31 HAS BEEN SECURED] ] yet this statement concerning a change in policy was dismissed by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

ee also

*Channel 31
*Westlink Network
*Television broadcasting in Australia

References

External links

* [http://www.accesstvwa.com/ Access 31 Homepage]
* [http://wakeupwa.com/ "Wake up! WA" Homepage]
* [http://westcotv.com.au/ "The Couch" Homepage]


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