Community TV stations C31 Melbourne and C44 Adelaide have received a three-year license extension after an amendment to broadcast legislation was passed in the Australian Senate and confirmed in the House of Representatives this week. C31 Melbourne has been an essential partner of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and other local faith-based groups during the pandemic, helping communities to stay in touch through free-to-air televised religious services and programs.

For Catholics in Victoria, this has included the weekly broadcast of Sunday Mass from St Patrick's Cathedral since March 2020, as well as other liturgies and programs during Holy Week/Easter and at Christmas time.

'The gathering of our people – especially for the celebration of the Eucharist – lies at the heart of our identity,' said Archbishop Peter A Comensoli.

‘The broadcast of Sunday Mass on free-to-air TV has helped our community to remain connected during this time of uncertainty.’
The Easter Vigil in 2020. The Mass was broadcast live to C31 while Victoria was in COVID lockdown.

Archbishop Comensoli acknowledged the efforts of local parishes in providing online Masses but recognised that not all Australians have the technical understanding or capacity to view livestreams in their homes.

‘Sadly, the ongoing threat of the COVID has meant that parts of our community, particularly the elderly, the sick and those in prison, are unable to return to public worship and rely heavily on the free-to-air TV broadcast of Mass,’ he said.

‘It is welcome news that our partnership with C31 can continue while COVID restrictions remain.’

The renewal is a welcome relief for C31 Melbourne staff, volunteers, program makers and the wider community. C31 Melbourne Chair Mike Zafiropoulos AM acknowledged the efforts of its staff, producers and program makers over the last few months.

'We have also been overwhelmed by the showing of public support and are heartened by the collective resolve to fight for a positive outcome for Community Television in Victoria. Thank you.'

The 11am Sunday Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral is broadcast live to C31 Melbourne, which is channel 44 on digital TV. Daily Mass from the Cathedral can be streamed live at the Archdiocesan YouTube Channel.