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Radio station owes $65K after breaches

LIGHT has been shed on the sudden demise of community radio 96.3fm with the station allegedly breaching a number of funding requirements.
LIGHT has been shed on the sudden demise of community radio 96.3fm with the station allegedly breaching a number of funding requirements. Leks_Laputin

LIGHT has been shed on the sudden demise of community radio 96.3fm with the station allegedly breaching a number of funding requirements.

The NewsMail reported in June that after being on air since 2002, the radio station abruptly stopped transmitting on Wednesday, June 4.

Yesterday, Lin Nemeth told the NewsMail her husband Stephen joined the Bundaberg Burnett Community Broadcasting Association (BBCBA) - which ran the station - early last year before becoming vice president in October.

Mrs Nemeth said the radio station halted transmission as it had stop stopped receiving funding from the Community Broadcasting Foundation under the Ethnic Program Grant for alleged fraud in relation to its eligibility and reporting.

"The station received funding from the Community Broadcasting Foundation to present ethnic programming," she said.

"This can mean broadcasting in other languages or it can be in English.

"In a two-hour program, 50% is supposed to be spoken word."

Mrs Nemeth said the issue was made worse because the station provided a falsified CD along with a written report for its periodic reporting to showcase a typical program and prove that it was complying with the requirements.

"They were just not doing what they were supposed to be doing but falsifying reports," she said.

Mrs Nemeth said the couple took its concerns about the lack of ethnic programming and inaccurate financial reporting to the station's then president Muriel Horsfall.

"We were ostracised and Stephen was railroaded out of the organisation in February," she said.

"Once we became aware of the mismanagement, our own integrity and honesty wouldn't allow us to turn a blind eye to it."

Mrs Nemeth said the couple then provided evidence of the station's transgressions to the CBF, Office of Fair Trading and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

CBF executive director Ian Stanistreet declined to comment on the case saying "I believe that it is not appropriate for the Community Broadcasting Foundation to comment further on the matter at this time".

But Mrs Nemeth provided the NewsMail with a letter from CBF dated May 29, 2014, that confirmed the station had been investigated and found guilty of five breaches including a failure to meet spoken word requirements, falsified recordings made for recording and submitting irregular financial reports.

"On May 23, 2014, the foundation considered responses from the BBCBA in which the association advised that it was in the process of changing its management, securing external bookkeeping support and engaging a registered company auditor to review its financial records," the letter stated.

"The foundation advised BBCBA yesterday that it had determined that no further funding applications will be considered from the BBCBA until June 30, 2016 and that restitution of all CBF funding provided to BBCBA since July 1, 2011 totalling $65,231 must be made."

A ruling by the ACMA in April 11, 2014 said the station had also breached a requirement by not encouraging participation in the operations of the service.

The NewsMail's attempts to contact Muriel Horsfall were unsuccessful.

Topics:  radio station



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