The ACMA

Media ownership and control

Ownership and control rules

Media diversity rules

Media operations

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) defines a ‘media operation’ as a commercial television broadcasting licence, a commercial radio broadcasting licence or a newspaper that is associated with the licence area of a commercial television broadcasting licence or a commercial radio broadcasting licence (associated newspaper).

Media groups

A media group is defined in the BSA as a group of two or more media operations.

The concept of ‘media group’ is integral to the media ownership diversity rules which involve the calculation of the number of points in a radio licence area and limitations on transactions with the effect of reducing the number of points below a specified level.

The scheme relies on the registration of ‘registrable media groups’ in the Register of Controlled Media Groups (RCMG).

Registrable media groups

In order for media group to be entered in the RCMG, it must be a ‘registrable media group’. A registrable media group, in relation to the licence area of a commercial radio broadcasting licence, means a media group of two or more media operations, where:

  • a person is in a position to exercise control of each of those media operations
  • each of those media of operations complies with the statutory control rules
  • if a commercial television broadcasting licence is in the group—more than 50 per cent of the licence area population of the first radio licence area is attributable to the licence area of the commercial television broadcasting licence
  • if a commercial radio broadcasting licence is in the group—the first radio licence area is the same as, or is entirely within, the licence area of the licence
  • if a newspaper is in the group—the newspaper is associated with the first radio licence area.

In the media diversity scheme, this situation counts for one point. A media operation that is not part of a media group is also worth one point.

Controllers of media operations and media groups

A controller of a media group means a person who is in a position to exercise control of each media operation in the media group.

A change in control of a media operation requires notification to the ACMA. If a registrable media group is formed from a change in control to one or more media operations, the ACMA will enter the group in the Register of Controlled Media Groups.

Changes in control are also relevant to the ‘triggering’ requirements relating to local presence and local content for regional commercial radio.

Register of Controlled Media Groups

The RCMG contains entries for all registrable media groups in each radio licence area. An entry in the RCMG lists the media operations that form part of a group and the controllers of those operations. While an entry for a media group is unconfirmed (or if a removal of a group or an alteration to a controller of the group is unconfirmed), the entry for the group will include a note indicating the unconfirmed status. The RCMG also includes explanatory notes to assist users.

The Media control database provides more comprehensive information in an interactive form. The database contains the information included in the RCMG, as well as information about ungrouped or independently owned media operations and a guide to the number of points in each radio licence area. It also identifies commercial television services that  pass the shared content test.

Unacceptable media diversity situation

This concept is linked to the new points scheme in the BSA. What comprises an unacceptable media diversity situation will depend on whether the relevant commercial radio broadcasting licence area is a metropolitan licence area or a regional licence area.

An unacceptable media diversity situation will exist in a metropolitan licence area of a commercial radio broadcasting licence if the number of points in the radio licence area is less than five.

An unacceptable media diversity situation will exist in a regional licence area of a commercial radio broadcasting licence if the number of points in the licence area is less than four.

The prohibition on transactions that result in an unacceptable media diversity situation is sometimes referred to as ‘the 4/5 rule’.

(The relevant commercial radio licence area is used in determining points because it is considered that a radio licence area will more closely reflect the influence of relevant radio services or newspapers in a community than a television licence area which may cover a large geographical area.)

Unacceptable 3-way control situation

An unacceptable three-way control situation exists in relation to the licence area of a commercial radio broadcasting licence (the first radio licence area) if a person is in a position to exercise control of:

  • a commercial television broadcasting licence, where more than 50 per cent of the licence area population of the first radio licence area is attributable to the licence area of the commercial television broadcasting licence; and
  • a commercial radio broadcasting licence, where the licence area of the commercial radio broadcasting licence is, or is the same as, the first radio licence area; and
  • a newspaper that is associated with the first radio licence area.

The prohibition on transactions that result in an unacceptable three-way control situation is sometimes referred to as ‘the 2-out-of-3 rule’.

Last updated: 18 January 2016

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