C31 Melbourne
Broadcast areaMelbourne, Geelong, surrounding areas[1]
Picture format576i (SDTV) 16:9
OwnerMelbourne Community Television Consortium
Launched6 October 1994 (1994-10-06)
DVB-T32 (Melbourne)
42 (South Yarra)
Freeview (virtual)44

C31 Melbourne is a free-to-air community television channel in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its name is derived from UHF 31, the frequency and channel number reserved for analogue broadcasts by metropolitan community television stations in Australia.


The station began broadcasting officially on 6 October 1994. The Australian Broadcasting Authority had granted Melbourne Community Television Consortium (MCTC) with a temporary open-narrowcast licence on 5 March 1993. The framework of community television in Australia can be traced back to 1992, when the Government asked the ABA to conduct a trial of community television using the vacant sixth television channel 31. On 30 July 2004, the Australian Broadcasting Authority granted the station a full-time community broadcasting licence.

C31 began broadcasting in digital during June 2010.[2]

C31 is primarily funded through sponsorship, grants, sale of airtime and member donations. The station does not receive any regular Government funding.[3] The annual revenue of C31 is approximately (AUD) $2 million per year. For comparison, the Nine Network, an Australian commercial station, has $907 million annual revenue.[4] The station claims that "1.4 million Melbournians tune in each month"[5] this figure is supplied by the ratings company OzTam. Individual programs can have ratings of up to 180,000 viewers.

The C31 website was completely remodelled in 2009, and now offers streaming of every program they broadcast (if the producer consents).[6] C31 Melbourne is the only community television broadcast in Australia which offers this.

C31 announced to its digital service provider and officially began simulcasting from 2010 on logical channel number 44. C31 officially started broadcasting in Digital on 28 May 2010[7] with the official launch date on 11 June.[8]

On 27 June 2010, the community TV programming was rebranded "C31" with new logo, identities, schedule and watermark.[citation needed]

On 1 March 2012, C31 ceased broadcasting its analogue signal, and became available only as logical digital channel 44.[citation needed]

In September 2014, Australian federal communications minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that licensing for community television stations would end in December 2015.[9] In September 2015, Turnbull, then Prime Minister, announced an extension of the deadline to 31 December 2016.[10]

C31, like other community television stations, started moving operations online, and began streaming its channel live on their website, allowing access to viewers outside of its traditional broadcast area. In April 2016, C31 became the first community station to offer a mobile app that offers live streaming and video on demand catch-up television.[11]

The deadline was further extended twice at the last minute by Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, first to 30 June 2017,[12] and later to 31 December 2017.[13] Fifield made an additional extension to 30 June 2018 as part of the government's deal with the Nick Xenophon Team to garner support for large-scale media reforms in the Senate,[14][15] while a further extension, announced on 1 June 2018, gave broadcasters an additional two years through 30 June 2020.[16] In June 2020, they were given another 12-month extension.[17] In June 2021, thanks to amendments tabled by South Australian Senator Rex Patrick, the station was given a three-year extension.[18][19]

Transmission quality

Its signal is transmitted from Mt. Dandenong and Como Centre, South Yarra, reaching much of the Greater Melbourne, Geelong and West Gippsland areas on free-to-air television.[20]

C31 is available on digital via UHF 32 in Melbourne & Geelong and UHF 66 in South Yarra.[8]

Prior to 1 March 2012, C31's signal was available in analog UHF at a lower power than Melbourne's other television stations (it was, for example, one quarter of SBS's output power). Nevertheless, viewers with good line-of-sight to the main transmitter on Mount Dandenong could receive a usable signal from as far away as Geelong, Castlemaine and Moe[citation needed].


Further information: List of programs broadcast by Channel 31

C31 broadcasts a vast array of locally produced content including news, sport, youth, arts, and entertainment programmes. The station also features a substantial amount of local multicultural programming, celebrating Melbourne's ethnic diversity.


Fishcam is arguably C31's best-known programme. It was a pre-recorded broadcast of a fish tank located in the station's studios, set to music by independent artists.[21] It used to be live, but the station got complaints from the ACMA when there was a dead fish floating on the top of the tank for several days. It was originally shown in place of a test pattern when the station had no programming available for broadcast. After it was discovered that Fishcam was reasonably popular, Fishcam became a scheduled show and was even listed in the TV guide. C31 has boasted that Fishcam is "very popular"[22] and is so widely recognised in the Melbourne community that "many people know C31 as 'the fish station'."[23]

The station has previously made VHS tapes of Fishcam available for purchase. After having its timeslot continually cut back over the years to make room for more traditional programming, Fishcam finally ceased broadcasting on 4 March 2007.[24] On 13 October 2014 FishCam returned at the new time of 9pm hosted by Luis from Lessons with Luis.[25] The return of FishCam coincides with the station's twentieth anniversary.

Other programs

The logo for Deaf TV, one of the diverse programs on C31
The logo for Deaf TV, one of the diverse programs on C31


Many comedians, performing artists and producers worked at C31 before moving to mainstream television, these people include Rove McManus, Amy Parks, Greg Tingle, Hamish and Andy's Hamish Blake and Andy Lee, Adam Richard, Peter Helliar, Merrick and Rosso's Merrick Watts and Tim Ross, Jo Stanley, Darren Chau, Corinne Grant, Jamie McDonald, Tom Ballard, Tommy Little, Dave Thornton, Jess Harris, Anthony McCormack, Alex Tigani, Josh Schmidt and Kim Hope.


See also


  1. ^ "C31 Melbourne and Geelong licence area" (PDF). Australian Community Television Alliance. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  2. ^ "About C31". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  3. ^ "C31 Information Kit" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  4. ^ James Packer, "Chairman's Address", Publishing and Broadcasting Limited Annual General Meeting, 27 October 2005
  5. ^ C31 Website - About C31 "...with over 1.4 million Melburnians tuning in each month"
  6. ^ "Community Television, Music Television, Footy Show, Car Restoration, Classic Cars Shows". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Miralax dosage". Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b "C31 Melbourne and Geelong - Digital TV Information". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Community TV: Malcolm Turnbull confirms licensing for stations will end in 2015". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  10. ^ Knox, David (17 September 2015). "Community TV lifeline: extended to 2016". TV Tonight. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  11. ^ Turner, Adam (20 April 2016). "Community TV: shift to online begins". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  12. ^ Knox, David (15 December 2016). "New switch-off date for Community TV". TV Tonight. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Channel 31 gets a six-month reprieve on free-to-air TV shutdown". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney. 27 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  14. ^ Wallbank, Paul (15 September 2017). "The devil in the detail: The deals the government made to get media reforms across the line". Mumbrella. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  15. ^ Harris, Rob (13 September 2017). "Media reform: Government clinches deal with crossbench". Herald Sun. Melbourne. Retrieved 31 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Community television broadcasters granted two-year licence extension" (Press release). Canberra. Department of Communications and the Arts. 1 June 2018. Archived from the original on 6 June 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  17. ^ Knox, David. "11th hour reprieve: C31 & C44 win 12 month extension | TV Tonight". tvtonight.com.au. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  18. ^ Kelsall, Thomas (24 June 2021). "Channel 44 off death row with three-year licence extension". InDaily. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  19. ^ Sutton, Malcolm (23 June 2021). "Community TV stations Channel 31 and Channel 44 given three-year lifeline in surprise turnaround". ABC News. ABC Radio Adelaide. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ Application to the ABA for Melbourne Community Television "From midnight there is a live camera broadcasting...with music by independent artists playing in the background."
  22. ^ Application to the ABA for Melbourne Community Television "Fishcam is a very popular and peaceful alternative to late night infomercials."
  23. ^ Channel 31's Former Fishcam Webpage (via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine) "Fishcam is one of Channel 31's most popular and recognised programs to the extent that many people know Channel 31 as 'the fish station'. To our knowledge, there is nowhere in the world where you can switch on your television to watch fish".
  24. ^ C31 : Our Shows: Show Guide Archived 7 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Fishcam returns to Channel 31". TV Tonight. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  26. ^ "Comic Attitude: Jodie J. Hill". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  27. ^ a b "Taping the source". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  28. ^ "Hamish, Andy, Rove and Pete go missing on Channel 31 effort - Crikey". Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  29. ^ "UNDER MELBOURNE TONIGHT". Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2015.