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NORTH WEST FMíS REPLY TO THE HUME COUNCIL CEOíS STATEMENT REGARDING OUR ANTENNA SITUATION.

The CEOís statement contains many factual errors and false assumptions.

Radio antennas

Domenic Isola, CEO of Hume City Council, has issued a statement with respect to the North West FM antennas:

Hume City Council has supported North West FM for the past 10 years, enabling this radio station to broadcast from an antenna on top of the Broadmeadows Town Hall.

Incorrect: North West FM has been broadcasting from an antenna on top of the Broadmeadows Town Hall for the past 25 years - NOT 10 years as stated by Domenic Isola. This shows how out of touch he is with the real situation. 25 years of co-operation, serving the ratepayers of Hume - and now the Council is ripping this co-operation to pieces by refusing to allow us to turn on our new transmitter on their administration building.

For the past 10 years, Council has paid all electricity bills with respect to this antenna.

North West FM has never been approached to pay any electricity bill.

North West FM will continue to remain on air via this antenna on top of Broadmeadows Town Hall.

Incorrect: Our transmitter in the Broadmeadows Town Hall is 9 years old and has been damaged and corroded by the weather and by the air-conditioning being turned off. It is only producing 50 Watts instead of the 400 Watts and is decreasing all the time. In a short period of time it will fail completely and we will be off the air - unless Council honour their agreement made in 2008 and allow us to turn on our new transmitter.

Listeners who rang Council have been told there is nothing wrong with our radio signal, This is more Council mis-information - they know we have a failing transmitter.

Any decision by Council will not impact on the radio station staying on air.

Hume City Council initiated discussions with North West FM in October 2014, to relocate a new and separate antenna which is located on top of Councilís administration building.

Council has made this decision in the best interests of the entire community.

Which communities were consulted about what was best for them? Is closing down a Community Radio in ANY Community's best interests?

The height and location of the Councilís administration building makes it the best place in Hume for North West FM to reach all the ratepayer of Hume - including residents of Craigieburn who can no longer pick us up since the Councilís administration building now blocks our signal from the Town Hall. Arenít they a part of ďthe entire communityĒ?

This new antenna has remained switched off since it was discovered that its operation caused a major failure of Councilís telecommunications and information technology systems.

Incorrect: Our test broadcast highlighted a problem with the quality of Councilís communications cable. We are informed that when we turned our test off, their communications were restored. No damage.

This new antenna interrupted vital services to the community and cost Council more than $10,000 to rectify.

We have been advised that they have replaced the old cable with fibre optic cable as recommended by our technician. This would account for some of the quoted $10,000 (which was quoted as $15,000 to a caller very recently).

If they have replaced their cabling, why wonít they allow us to do another test transmission to show our antennas can work side by side? What are they hiding?

While Council initially agreed to install this new antenna, North West FM subsequently decided it wanted to double the antennaís wattage output.

Incorrect: North West FM increased its output to 400 Watts some 15 years ago when ACMA told us to do so in order to cover a larger area in our broadcast area. But in recent years we have had to reduce the output of the transmitter to 200 Watts due to corrosion and other weather damages to our transmitter.

The majority of community stations around Melbourne broadcast on 400 Watts - including 3NRG Sunbury, 3PVR Plenty Valley, 3WYN FM Werribee, 3MDR Mountain District Radio, 3SER Casey Radio and 3YV Yarra Valley.

3RRR, 3PBS and 3ZZZ Ethnic Radio are all allowed to broadcast up to 56 kiloWatts. That is 56,000 Watts which is 140 times the meagre output of our 400 Watts. More Council mis-information.

Technicians that Council engages have advised that they wonít go on the roof of our administration building while the radio stationís new antenna is switched on.

Council drew up the lease agreement and we agreed to their clause that we will power down our transmitter on the rare occasions that anyone needs to work on the roof. Roof access is locked so there is no issue here. More Council mis-information.

While we were under no obligation to assist, Council has sourced two different sites for this new antenna, both of which offer the radio station better coverage, and do not impact on Councilís essential telecommunications and services.

We need locked access to protect our $60,000 investment and where else could we get that but from the Council that is supposed to be serving the ratepayers of Hume. The two sites ďrecommendedĒ by Council do not provide that security, nor do they provide the needs of a transmitter or antenna.The most secure location is right where the antenna is now - on the roof of the Councilís administration building in Broadmeadows.

For almost one year, Hume has attempted to contact this Moreland-based station to discuss these alternative sites, but Council has had very little response.

These ďalternative sitesĒ were so unsuitable they didnít warrant any discussion.

Council does not understand why North West FM has resisted our efforts to assist the station to relocate the new antenna to an even better site.

There is no ďeven better siteĒ in Hume than where it is now. That is why we accepted Councilís offer in 2008 to re-locate our antenna onto the roof of the Councilís administration building in Broadmeadows. We do not need to look elsewhere - Council just needs to honour their agreement made in 2008 and turn us on.

We will continue to encourage the radio station to consider alternative sites for their new antenna.

Why would we need to consider ANY alternative sites? In 2008 we were guaranteed the roof space at the Councilís administration building in Broadmeadows by Domenic Isola himself. That was the agreement then - it still is - we just want it honoured now.

98.9 North West FM - Your local station

Phone: (03) 9304 4989

Web: www.northwestfm.org

Fax:

Email: info@northwestfm.org

Studio SMS: 044 77 77 989

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Snail mail: PO Box 403, Glenroy, Vic, 3046 (Australia)

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Reviewed

8 September 2015