Female artists launch petition to get Double J an FM radio licence
A collective of Australian female singer-songwriters have written to the Government and Opposition requesting that the ABC’s digital-only station Double J be given broader reach via access to an FM radio licence.
The group has also launched a petition on Change.org to garner support from music fans.
The collective of Missy Higgins, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Sarah Blasko, Vikki Thorn and Deborah Conway noted that while women across the world face bigger issues than music, it was important to “celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality”, in line with the UN’s goals.
The request comes on International Women’s Day.
The women said in Australia, ageing female artists get far less exposure on FM radio than their male counterparts. While they continue to release new music, fans and would-be fans often only hear their old releases on FM radio.
They noted there is no female equivalent to Triple M, and the expansion of Double J to FM would be “a relatively simple solution” to getting closer to equality.
Double J is currently a digital-only spin off of the younger-skewing triple j. It caters to an older adult audience with new releases from older artists as well as music from triple j’s library and archives.
The letter was sent to both current minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts, Paul Fletcher, as well as Labor’s shadow minister for communications, Michelle Rowland.
It called on both parties to commit to modest additional funding for the project should they be successful at the upcoming election, with a particular focus on regional Australia.
“At the moment, this fantastic digital-only channel plays a lot of new music by female (and non-female) artists over the age of 30, but its reach is severely limited,” the letter said.
“Some of us can fortunately still be heard on triple j and community stations. The rest of us benefitted hugely from FM radio exposure in our 20s and 30s, and the hits we had in those years continue to receive recurrent airplay for which we are sincerely grateful.
“However, like our male counterparts, we continue to release new music of which we are proud and we believe that our fans deserve an equal opportunity to hear it on the radio.”
Radio licences in Australia are administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) as dictated by the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
The full letter is below:
Dear Minister Fletcher,
We the undersigned are prominent singer/songwriters who are currently touring together as part of a successful new all-female Australian music festival called “Wildflower”. We write to you on International Women’s Day to seek your public support of a modest initiative which we believe would benefit all Australians, but particularly Australian women.
While our live performances together attract crowds of 5,000-10,000 people per night, none of these fans can hear our new music on local FM stations. In the United Kingdom, BBC Radio 2 continues to play artists like ourselves. In the United States there are dozens of so called “AAA” and “Non-Comm” stations that allow fans to discover new releases from established artists. Thankfully, some older male musicians can still have their latest songs heard around Australia on the Triple M network but, sadly, there is no local FM equivalent for women.
Given the imminent federal election we therefore call upon the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party to commit modest extra funding during the first year of the next Government to allow the ABC’s “Double J” to start being broadcast on the FM spectrum – particularly in regional Australia. At the moment, this fantastic digital-only channel plays a lot of new music by female (and non-female) artists over the age of 30 but its reach is severely limited.
Some of us can fortunately still be heard on triple j and community stations. The rest of us benefitted hugely from FM radio exposure in our 20’s and 30’s and the hits we had in those years continue to receive recurrent airplay for which we are sincerely grateful. However, like our male counterparts, we continue to release new music of which we are proud and we believe that our fans deserve an equal opportunity to hear it on the radio.
The expansion of Double J would be a relatively simple solution to this current inequity for artists and fans alike. To that end we have launched a petition HERE, and will be inviting people to sign it to show their support for this idea.
We fully respect that there are more significant issues which require the attention of Governments – particularly when it comes to the many serious challenges faced by women. Nonetheless, the United Nations’ expressed goals for International Women’s Day are to “celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and to take action for equality”.
We respectfully submit that the expansion of Double J to the FM band would neatly meet each of those goals and for that reason we eagerly await your reply.
Missy Higgins, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Sarah Blasko, Vikki Thorn & Deborah Conway