Sydney’s queer community may yet win a permanent radio broadcasting licence, but a groundswell of support would be needed before any such service could commence, a representative of Out FM has warned.

Out FM is one of eight community broadcast groups in Sydney who have applied for a permanent AM community broadcasting licence. The Australian Broadcasting Authority [ABA] is expected to award the licence in early March, but because Out FM has not made a temporary broadcast in two years, the current level of gay and lesbian community support for such a service is untested.

Sean Crellin, a member of Out FM’s management committee, told Sydney Star Observer that the ABA identified the GLBTQ community as the next in line for a community licence when they awarded three permanent FM community broadcast licences in May 2001.

The ABA’s decision to award an AM community licence (announced when the FM licence decision was handed down) was undertaken as a result of lobbying from Out FM, he said.

But the awarding of an AM licence to Out FM would be only the first hurdle in setting up a permanent radio station for Sydney’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community, Crellin warned.

An AM licence is very expensive to set up, and technically very difficult to set up, he said. It would be time- consuming and expensive.

Crellin estimated that a permanent station would require around $300,000 to establish.

Out FM has not been on the air since the Mardi Gras season in 2001. A proposed Gay Games broadcast was stymied by an indifferent response by Sydney 2002, Crellin claimed.

Although regrouping Out FM’s membership would not be difficult, Crellin said, there was a marked lack of confidence in the gay and lesbian community.

[There is a perception] that the gay and lesbian community is imploding and is not capable of sustaining anything, Crellin said. This perception was based in part on the failures of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and Sydney 2002 Gay Games, he said.

But electronic media could be a new lease of life in terms of community building, he suggested.

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