Upgrades to safeguard transmission sites during natural disasters

The Albanese Government will improve the resilience of 107 ABC radio sites used for emergency broadcasting which are at a higher risk of service failure due to natural disasters.

The $20 million Broadcasting Resilience Program (BRP) will keep communities in rural and regional Australia informed and connected during natural disasters by increasing the resilience of ABC broadcast sites across the country.

The national backbone of rural and regional broadcasting is provided by BAI Communications who will deliver the work program over the next three years to:

  • establish 55 new emergency power systems (e.g. battery and diesel backup) at ABC Local Radio sites;
  • deliver backup program inputs (e.g. satellite input) for 77 ABC Local Radio sites to quickly re-establish broadcast services;
  • deliver civil and infrastructure upgrades to 10 ABC AM sites in areas susceptible to flooding; and
  • supply five rapid recovery assets that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in Australia during a natural disaster or other significant event.

The upgrades on these sites – including multiple types of upgrade on a single site – will also have a wide range of additional benefits to other service providers who are co-located on many BAI sites including commercial broadcasters, telecommunications providers and state and territory emergency services.

This announcement is in addition to the $50 million Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation (TDRI) program and the $15 million Mobile Network Hardening Program previously announced by the Albanese Government. Both programs are part of the Albanese Government’s $656 million Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia funded in the October 2022 Budget.

The 2020 Royal Commission on National Natural Disaster Arrangements Final Report acknowledged the important role played by broadcast media in the coverage of emergency warnings and information to the community during the 2019-20 bushfire season and identified disruptions to power supply as a significant vulnerability. The BRP ultimately aims to improve the preparedness of these sites and infrastructure on it against increasing natural disasters.

The Liberal National Coalition had years to act on proposals to harden broadcast transmissions sites to improve safety for communities in rural and regional Australia, but did nothing.

For more information on the Better Connectivity Plan visit https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/media-communications-arts/better-connectivity-plan-regional-and-rural-australia

Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:

“During a natural disaster, access to timely and accurate information can be the difference between life and death.

“The Albanese Government is proud to have delivered $20 million to fund the Broadcasting Resilience Program so regional communities most at-risk from natural disasters can stay connected and informed.

“As the key company managing ABC transmission sites, BAI Communications is uniquely placed to implement these important initiatives. I look forward to the completion of these upgrades by April 2025.

“Our Government will continue to invest in communications resilience in regional communities, including through our new $50 million Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation program”.