LanceTV Inc – Queer Victoria's Perspectives/Stories Broadcast On Queer Community TV

From this weekend (Saturday 16 July) in an Australian first, queer perspectives from across Victoria will be broadcast to a new media platform – Queer Community TV (QCTV).

Deb Lord - Image © Randal Smith

The platform's aim is to provide a safe space for regional LGBTQIA+ Victorians, a place for them to tell their stories and celebrate the queer voices in rural areas.

Ballarat broadcasters LanceTV Inc. will be a part of these test broadcasts. 'LaNCE TV', which has been streaming on Facebook since 2017 (and in 2020 started splitting the stream between Facebook and Channel 31 Melbourne), recently won the Antenna Award (Community Television) for Outstanding Technical and Creative Ingenuity During Lockdown. It started as a project aiming to bring more awareness to queer issues.

Global streaming solution 5Stream, based in Melbourne, was given the task of building QCTV. It has been supported through the Australian Government's Regional Arts Fund.

To find out more about what LanceTV Inc. will be bringing to QCTV, we chat to the driving force behind the QCTV initiative, Executive Producer of 'LaNCE TV', Deb Lord.

For those unfamiliar, tell us a bit about LanceTV Inc. in general.
LanceTV Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation in Victoria, Australia. The organisation is behind the creation of the weekly variety LGBTQIA+ chat show 'LaNCE TV'. The show has been broadcast live from Ballarat to C31 Melbourne since 2020 and across Facebook to selected pages since 2017. 'LaNCE TV' has since grown to be a two-time awarding winning, multigenerational, intersectional LGBTQIA+ variety chat show, winning the national 2021 Antenna Award for Outstanding Technical Ingenuity and Creativity in Australian community television and, was also recognised at a state level as the LGBTQIA+ Artist of the Year at the 2022 GLOBE Victoria Community Awards ceremony.

Image © Randal Smith

What’s your favourite thing about what LanceTV Inc. sets out to achieve?
At LanceTV Inc. we explore and push the boundaries of the digital environment. Many people forget that household computers and internet access are still a very new things in our society. The true vastness and capability of the digital world is still only being discovered. But whichever way you look at it, the internet holds a wonderful potential to connect people, to freely exchange ideas, and be a place of belonging for those who feel isolated. That's the thing we most love about what we do here at LanceTV Inc., using the internet as a platform to promote LGBTQIA+ visibility, keep our community informed and connected, and to help challenge stereotypes and educate the broader population about the normalcy of the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities.

And now, tell us about the newest development with LanceTV Inc!
Regional Arts Grant
The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund is provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria. LanceTV Inc. received $16,453 to commence work on the project which entailed workshop delivery to LGBTQIA+ communities in regional Victoria in the use of mobile phones for content creation and how to edit footage using open-source video and audio editing software. Greater chunk of funding used to design and build out platform. The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund is provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria.
City of Ballarat – Creative Inspiration Grant
This is a grant-making programme for the arts, culture, and creative sector to help kickstart or continue to implement a new idea. This is an ongoing grant programme providing $1,000 to artists, creatives, producers, performers, creative industries, makers and artisans who are living, working or studying in the City of Ballarat. This funding allowed us to purchase flexible tripods for mobile phones and wired lavalier microphones for mobile phones. This equipment was given free to workshop participants and gave them access to tools which supported positive creative outcomes.
Department of Families, Fairness and Housing: Equity Unity - LGBTQIA+ Organisational Development Grant
In order to develop the current operations of 'LaNCE TV', through successful expansion into an independent digital space, it was important to undergo a strategic process of organisational development. To grow meaningfully and sustainably, the expansion needs to be grounded in good governance, solid planning and a strong financial future. This funding is to ensure the organisational frameworks are in place to support the growth and expansion of LanceTV Inc. The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing – Equity Unit have supported this project though approved funding of $50,000.

What’s QCTV?
We are excited to say that we are launching Australia’s first LGBTQIA+ digital TV platform on Saturday 16 July – Queer Community TV (QCTV). This initiative seeks to include LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities from across remote and regional Victoria, to amplify the storytelling and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ people living in rural areas. As our tagline says: QCTV - We are community.

And why do you think something like QCTV is important, especially for those in rural areas?
We began exploring social media as a platform for entertainment and LGBTQIA+ connection in July 2017, long before the COVID pandemic was a thing. In delivering our show, over the last five years, we have worked purely in a voluntary capacity to keep our community connected, informed, and entertained. We have done so, largely without having access to those broader support networks, funding opportunities and capacities readily found in metropolitan environments. Yet, we feel that through our determination to achieve successful creative outcomes, that we have forged a body of work that is truly unique and representational of the rich tapestry that is our LGBTQIA+ community. In February of 2020, we began splitting the broadcasts to social media and community television station C31 Melbourne. Our involvement with community television gave us a new depth of understanding of how important our work is in documenting and celebrating LGBTQIA+ stories. C31 are a wonderful organisation. We are supported by them and feel very much a part of the family, we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. When the last remaining community television stations, C31 Melbourne and C44 Adelaide, were faced with possible closures in 2020 and again in 2021 under the Liberal Federal Government, LanceTV Inc. began to take stock of our position. Should C31 actually close, we would be resigned to return to social media for our broadcasts. With the ever-increasing censorship and impossible algorithms of social media we felt that this would be a step backwards for us. At the same time, we became very aware that authentic LGBTQIA+ representation would disappear from view. Many queer depictions in mainstream media is a sanitised construct, viewed through a heteronormative lens and based on what’s good for ratings. This takes away the ability for real LGBTQIA+ people to tell their own stories and share their own histories in their own way. If Australia lost the remaining community TV stations like C33 Melbourne and C44 Adelaide there would sadly be an erasure of so many wonderful perspectives from minority groups, including those from LGBTQIA+ communities. Additionally, there is a demonstrated need which comes from the isolation experienced by LGBTQIA+ individuals living in remote and regional areas. Isolation and loneliness have been found have catastrophic consequences for both physical and mental health. Visibility and community connection has been shown to safeguard against these outcomes. Closures of regional TV stations such as WIN could be replaced by channels such as SKY news, overall further lessening access to rural community voices. 'LaNCE TV'’s growing reach demonstrates the need for more locally produced programming. So, we began to explore the idea of a community television digital platform for LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities, with an emphasis on holding space for regional LGBTQIA+ Victorians. We floated the idea of a queer community TV platform with several LGBTQIA+ communities and was heartened by the overall reaction we got for this concept.

LaNCETV AwardLaNCE TV wins an Antenna Award (Community Television) for Outstanding Technical and Creative Ingenuity During Lockdown

Why do you think LanceTV Inc. is the perfect broadcaster for this media platform?
The purpose of LanceTV Inc. is to strengthen LGBTQIA+ community connections in remote and regional Victoria through arts-based practice. This purpose has been realised through the broadcasting of the weekly live variety chat show 'LaNCE TV' on C31 Melbourne and simulcast across Facebook to keep the LGBTQIA+ community informed, engaged and entertained. Further to this, LanceTV Inc. has also streamed events for other LGBTQIA+ organisations wanting to remain visible and connected to their community but are without the skills or resources to produce quality streams their own events. As mentioned earlier, our aim is to amplify LGBTQIA+ storytelling, representation, and visibility through arts-based practice, to promote LGBTQIA+ community connections, and to reduce social isolation for LGBTQIA+ individuals living in rural and regional Victoria. We are experienced collaborators, having supported a number of large-scale projects with external bodies and peer agencies. Examples of this work that demonstrate our ability and readiness to work for and in service of LGBTQIA+ communities include: Pride-Solation, a seven-hour online festival spotlighting rural artists and community members during the lockdowns of 2020. The online event was truly a ‘Best of regional LGBTQIA+ Victoria’ showcasing musicians, artists, burlesque, cabaret, and interviews with community members. This event is estimated to be the first of its kind in Australia. The logistics around live-streaming the event was successfully led by LanceTV Inc., in concert with 14 regional LGBTQIA+ organisations. We volunteered 81 hours to edit all pre-recorded audio/visual material, in addition to live streaming the event itself. The stream has received more than 10,000 views on Facebook. LanceTV Inc. co-developed a three-hour live-stream for Ballarat Mental Health Week in November 2020 with local service providers. This was a blended presentation with a live host and panel with pre-recorded performances, visual art presentations and stories from service users and providers. We created the opening and closing sequences and digital artworks. To deliver this, LanceTV Inc. worked closely with the Ballarat Mental Health Week committee and advocated for LGBTQIA+ representation on the live panel discussion surrounding mental health wellbeing. During this process, 'LaNCE TV' worked in partnership with 14 service agencies to develop this stream which has been viewed on Facebook 2.3K times. 'LaNCE TV' has worked closely with the Daylesford Chillout Festival since 2020 to stream their Grand Parade. Chillout is Australia’s biggest and longest running regional LGBTQIA+ festival.

What kinds of things will viewers be able to see as part of the test broadcasts?
From Saturday 16 July audiences can experience a range of programming, ranging from documentaries and short films to roller derby and drag shows.

And how are you hoping they respond?
We hope that we can inspire LGBTQIA+ audiences to start creating their own content and telling their own stories through their own lens. Everyone carries a mobile phone and uses it to make pieces for faceless social media platforms such as YouTube and Tik Tok or go live on Facebook. But, does it mean anything?

Who are you working with to get QCTV up and running?
Sponsoring the QCTV initiative is Aussie Broadband, an Australian-operated telecommunications company. The company is Australia's fifth largest NBN provider and one of the fastest growing telcos in the country. It also provides a broad range of services to residential, business, enterprise and white label customers. 5stream have played an instrumental role in bringing the QCTV platform to life. They are a Melbourne-based, global streaming solutions provider who have been on the forefront of video streaming technology and workflows since their inception in 2010. LanceTV Inc. have been working closely with Mitchell Kalika (General Manager, 5stream) for a number of years now on a variety of projects, and his broadcast background mixed with the technical expertise of the wider 5stream team have been a key component in this launch. Shani Cain-Clifton is also working with us to bring an Inaugural LanceTV Inc. Board together. Shani is a leader and strategist working in the social impact space. She is an advocate for youth, gender and intersectionality. Shani has worked across settlement, climate and development and brings a wealth of experience in leadership, advocacy and strategy.

Queer Community TV starts its broadcasts on 16 July.


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