Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New Dawn is Starting to Shine, A New Perspective is Taking flight.

MOOD: Uplifted:

Well they may be another stroke of hope coming up. 

I had a long conversation with a radio consultancy firm a few days ago, and after the conversation I honestly felt the wait fall off my shoulders, the costs for operating a radio station are much less then I expected.  This was mainly in the area of electricity usage of a transmitter.  Considering the power 2PR FM needs to broadcast at, I was honestly surprised.

My preference of broadcasting in Sydney was originally based on the potential revenue of the station verses the out-going running costs.  Initially I thought these overheads were massive, such as in the millions of dollars - this is even excluding the cost of a commercial license. I thought the electricity use of the transmitter and other devices of the station would run into about $100,000 a month.  I honestly had no idea how much power a city wide FM transmitter uses, and for some reason this information is difficult to find on the internet.   When speaking to the consultants, I was relieved to know that my calculations were completely wrong.  The ongoing costs of a transmitter were only a fraction to what I anticipated, considering that the base load will be around 20kw.   

Having said that, they will still be hefty expenses to establishing a radio station, such as the land to place a transmitter on, the purchase of a transmitter, and of course the purchasing of office space for studios.  

With the running costs much lower then expected, the station can operate with a smaller revenue base.  This opens the door to looking into regional markets with smaller audience sizes, thus getting away from the "spectrum full" situation in Sydney.    Though this is not what we planned, looking into other avenues may be the root to getting us a foot into the industry.

Now stop for a moment, I hear you say, "he's on a disability support pension, what the hell is he talking about.  If they were weeks when he couldn't afford a loaf of bread, why in hell does he want to start a radio station?".  

Yep, that's right.  Though I have a basic studio set up in the spare room of my unit, where I'm operating from, my only income is a disability support pension which is mostly consumed by rent, food, and utility costs.  Though I could never afford any of this, I would at least like to present this information as part of a business plan, should we go down that route.   As our license options are running thin on the ground, we have to open up other avenues to pursue.  

As many who read this blog know, I've done everything over the years to get a job, and have never been able to find one.  Despite this reality, what I lack in money I make up in effort for wanting to contribute back to society.  They are those who live on housing subsidy and a pension and would rather spend their days watching Youtube and TV.  Unlike these freeloaders, I would like to do something great and interesting; something that breaks the monotony of being on indefinite welfare. 

Considering that Australia is a first world country, with an affluent mineral resource based economy, it is still hard to believe that many with a disability are treated like second rate citizens; such as being paid $1.70 an hour in sheltered workshops.  Yes, these places of exploitation still exist, they are now called business service centres.  This came to light from an ABC PM radio report from Friday 8th April 2011 as noted below for your listening.  It is these very issues that 2PR FM would bring to light everyday, not just once or twice a year as is the case with the ABC.    This is why I'm so determined to bring 2PR FM to a terrestrial model.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Class H License Submission, the reply from the powers above.

MOOD:  I don't know:
Blah, well here we are nearly at the end of September, and at last the weather is starting to suit my wardrobe.  The worst kept secret of Sydney Radio is out, 2PR FM's license submission was a total white-wash; it was an absolute emphatic NO from the powers above.

In 2005 I started gathering material, documentation, papers, essays, notes, and articles.  Next came arranging everything into a chapter by chapter structure with notes detailing why there should be a Class H license.  The researched documentation was used to support my arguments.  The submission even contained a proposed form for ACMA for interested applicants to fill out.  Everything was prepared right down to the smallest detail, so much to the point that both parts to the submission totaled 500 pages.  

With the rather apathetic reaction, you can only imagine how guttered I felt.   One is often tempted to write with emotion over reason when receiving such news, hence why there has been a long absence in writing.  Being aware of the circumstances, the last thing I wanted to write was a diatribe. 

So straight to the point without any fluff, this is what happened.  It actually came out of the blue as I was expecting a phone call, rather then a letter. 

The letter I dreaded came on Monday 6th August, I can't remember the circumstances, but I think I was out with friends that afternoon.  I remember coming back into my unit that evening, opening a yellow envelope from the Department of Broadband and Communications.  I didn't know what to expect, my head was spinning.  This is what seven years of work was adding up to.  I had a quick shower, scanned the documents, and then sent them through skype.  This was a special moment; I wanted to share this moment with my closest friends.  Remember at this point I still hadn't read the letter yet.

The call finally starts on Skype, and my friend successfully receives the scanned letter from the Department of Broadband and Communications.  After asking him to read it aloud, there was a rather ominous silence, and then he started reading.  When it came to the part of the letter noting that my license submission didn't even receive any consideration, it seemed everything slowed down.  You know the kind of slow down when kids mess around with a tape-recorder.  It wasn't just his voice though, it was everything.  My body started feeling like it was rapped in very course sand paper, my clothes started feeling rubbery, my hair had a gooey sensation, and my face felt like paper, I started feeling sick, sick in the gut, and nauseas in the head.  He continued reading the rest of the letter, but I was now only just barely holding on to my sanity.  My friend got to the end, and enthusiastically said, "That sucks, that really sucks".  At this point I was lost for words, and my mind was in shut down.  I could hear his words, but nothing was entering my head anymore.  I said to him that I didn't want to be rude, but I had to go, I wasn't feeling well.  He understood and we both hung up.  

That night I fell into a rapid depression. Though I certainly didn't expect things to go to a blue-print inside my head, I was open to compromise.  The most hurtful part was that there weren't any tangible suggestions from the department.  There wasn't even a "We can't grant you a Class H license, but we can do this, or have you looked into that, we can assist with such and such".  There was absolutely nothing.  The letter doggedly noted, "There are no plans to change this" as in regards to the government's broadcast license regime.   There wasn't any form of budging, not an inch nor even a millimeter.

After a week or so I started writing a reply.  Being very aware of my moods, my reply letter was definitely going to go through several revisions and some proof-reads from my family and friends. My state of mind was not the best, and I didn't want to come across as belligerent or arrogant.  Yes, I was as mad as hell, but lashing out was not going to help my case.  So my efforts went back to researching my submission.  With the help from others, I was able to construct a very good reply that was concise, to the point.  I felt that it answered all of the department’s relevant concerns without going into a rant.

On a somewhat positive note, I did have a telephone conversation with an officer about a week after the department's reply.   Despite being further down in the department hierarchy, he seemed to of understood my frustrations.  He definitely had a genuine sense of wanting to assist where possible, he seemed to of understood my situation, and was the first to comment on the amount of work I placed into my submission.  The conversation was cordial and friendly.  With this in mind, I feel that I may at least have some rapport with someone inside Broadband and Communications.   

With our reply letter now in the hands of the department of broadband and communications, we have a faint hope that they may be a change of heart, but seriously thinking the reality of the situation, I doubt it.  In the history of 2PR FM we've been through times like this before, and we've always come out, so I guess it's a case of battening down the hatches for awhile, we will find a solution to this, we have to!