The ACMA

Statutory control rules

There are laws that govern how much control anyone can have over Australian media. This page contains key statutory control rules for Australian media ownership that are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA).

Licence area and audience reach

A person must not be in a position to exercise control of commercial television broadcasting licences whose total licence area population exceeds 75 per cent of the population of Australia.

The total licence area population for the metropolitan commercial television networks is shown in the table below.

Network Licence area   Overlapping licence area (to deduct) Population reach

Seven

Metro:




Regional:

Brisbane
Sydney
Melbourne
Adelaide
Perth
Regional Qld
  

(12.38%)
(20.45%)
(20.03%)
(6.30%)
(8.14%)
(7.58%)

Brisbane and Regional QLD  (0.38%)



74.51%

Nine

Metro:




Regional:

Brisbane
Sydney
Melbourne
Adelaide
Perth
Darwin
Northern NSW

(12.38%)
(20.45%)
(20.03%)
(6.30%)
(8.14%)
(0.57%)
(9.56%)

 

Brisbane and Northern NSW (2.02%)
Sydney and Northern NSW (1.45%)

73.96%





Ten

Metro:

Brisbane
Sydney
Melbourne
Adelaide
Perth

(12.38%)
(20.45%)
(20.03%)
(6.30%)
(8.14%)

No overlaps

67.31%

*Population reach takes account of overlapping licence areas to ensure that the people who live in the overlapping areas are not counted twice. Information on the population of each licence area and their overlaps is included in the determination prepared under section 30 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) on 11April 2016.

The ACMA uses census data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to determine:

  • for each of the 27 commercial television licence areas, the population of that licence area;
  • the percentage of the population of Australia that each licence area population represents; and
  • the percentage of a licence area population that is also in another licence area.

Limitations on control of media operations in a licence area

A person must not be in a position to exercise control of:

  • more than one commercial television broadcasting licence in the same licence area
  • more than two commercial radio broadcasting licences in the same licence area.

A person must not be a director of a company or companies that are in a position to exercise control of:

  • more than one commercial television broadcasting licence in the same licence area
  • more than two commercial radio broadcasting licences in the same licence area
  • a commercial television broadcasting licence and a datacasting transmitter licence.

A person may not hold a directorship in two or more companies which between them exceed these limits. Similarly, anyone who controls a licence or licences may not be a director of another company that controls a licence or licences if control of the combination by a single person would be prohibited.

Exceptions to control rules

In licence areas where there is only one commercial television broadcasting licence the ACMA may, in certain circumstances, permit that licensee to provide a second commercial television broadcasting service.

In licence areas where there are two commercial television broadcasting licences, the ACMA may, in certain circumstances, permit those licensees to provide a third commercial television broadcasting service.

The statutory control rules do not apply to broadcasting licences allocated under section 38C or section 40 of the BSA.

Foreign ownership and control

The BSA does not restrict foreign control of commercial broadcasting licences or foreign directorships in companies which control such licences. Foreign ownership of Australian media assets is regulated by the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and Australia’s Foreign Investment Policy.

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