Technical Planning Guidelines | ACMA

Technical Planning Guidelines

The Technical Planning Guidelines (TPGs) contain mandatory technical requirements for broadcasting and datacasting licensees for planning and operating new or existing transmission facilities. The Technical Planning Guidelines are part of the Broadcasting Planning Manual. Read on to learn more.

More information

  1. Inside the TPGs
  2. After you obtain a radio broadcasting licence
  3. After you obtain a television broadcasting or datacasting licence
  4. If you operate from the nominal site shown in the LAP or DCP
  5. If you intend to operate a transmitter away from the nominal site
  6. Test transmissions
  7. Emission standards
  8. What about other services using the broadcasting services bands?
  9. Draft amendment to the TPGs

Inside the TPGs

The TPGs set out the technical conditions service providers must comply with when planning their facilities. They include requirements regarding:

  • site restrictions and site tolerances
  • maximum and minimum radiated power
  • maximum permitted field strength
  • interference to other services
  • radiated signal characteristics
  • test procedures to be followed when establishing transmission facilities.

After you obtain a radio broadcasting licence

Once you are allocated a licence for a commercial or community analog broadcasting service, you are automatically entitled to a transmitter licence for your service under section 102 of the Radiocommunications Act.

If you are allocated a temporary community broadcasting licence, you may be issued a transmitter licence under section 101A of the Radiocommunications Act.

Your transmitter licence will include technical specification details of your service from the relevant licence area plan (LAP) such as the frequency, maximum effective radiated power (ERP), the site of your transmitter and any special conditions relating to the radiation pattern of your signal.

These will already have been spelled out in the licence area plan and once the relevant LAP is finalised, there will usually be no flexibility to renegotiate your technical specifications. However, the TPGs may offer you some flexibility to locate your transmitter at a site other than the 'nominal site' shown in the licence area plan.

After you obtain a television broadcasting or datacasting licence

Once you are allocated a licence for a commercial or community broadcasting service, you are automatically entitled to a transmitter licence for your service under section 102 of the Radiocommunications Act.

Successful bidders at a datacasting licence allocation process are entitled to be issued datacasting transmitter licences under section 100 of the Radiocommunications Act.

Your transmitter licence will include details of your service from the relevant LAP, digital channel plan (DCP) or television licence area plan (TLAP) such as the channel, frequency, maximum ERP, the site of your transmitter and any special conditions relating to the radiation pattern of your signal.

These details will have been defined in the LAP or DCP and once the relevant LAP or DCP is finalised, there will usually be little flexibility to renegotiate your technical specifications. However, the TPGs may offer you some flexibility to locate your transmitter at a site other than the 'nominal site' shown in the LAP or DCP.

TLAPs take a different approach and only specify the channel, polarisation and maximum ERP. Details such as transmitter site, antenna height and radiation pattern are specified separately in planning data. This allows some flexibility in adjusting the details of particular services to reflect what has been implemented without requiring changes to the TLAP.

If you operate from the nominal site shown in the LAP, DCP or TLAP

If you intend to operate your transmitter from the nominal transmitter site in the LAP,DCP or TLAP, your transmitter licence can be issued. The licence will show details of the nominal site, as published in the licence area plan or digital channel plan.

You can then plan and construct any necessary transmitting facilities and conduct test transmissions, in accordance with the TPGs, before starting your permanent broadcasting service.

If you intend to operate a radio transmitter away from the nominal site

The TPGs provide some flexibility for licensees who wish to use an alternative to the nominal site published in the LAP.

The TPGs contain the criteria the ACMA will use to approve any alternative sites. The criteria are designed to ensure transmissions from an alternative site will not cause interference to radiocommunications services or to existing or planned broadcasting services.

It is your responsibility as licence holder to complete checks and calculations to determine if the alternative site will be satisfactory. You must prove to the ACMA that the channel capacity of the LAP won’t be adversely affected and that your alternative site will not cause interference to radiocommunications.

To gain approval for a new site, you must complete engineering and interference calculations for your proposed site. You must apply to the ACMA for a transmitter licence for test transmissions from the proposed site and provide a report proving operation from the proposed site is satisfactory within the bounds of the LAP and the TPGs.

Once the ACMA is satisfied you meet the requirements, it will issue a transmitter licence showing the actual site details. If a transmitter licence has already been issued, the ACMA may vary the existing licence.

You may now provide services from the new licensed transmitting facility, provided you continue to comply with any other technical specifications in the LAP.

Site tolerance (the distance you are able to locate your transmitter away from the nominal site) will vary widely and depend on factors such as the location of other transmission facilities and the channel spacing between your frequency and the frequencies used by other broadcasting services in the area.

The technical specifications set out in licence area plans or digital channel plans are not negotiable after the relevant licence area plan or digital channel plan has been finalised. If the nominal site proposed in a draft LAP does not suit you, you must raise the issue before the LAP is finalised.

Test transmissions

The TPGs also deal with test transmission procedures required before start-up and the evidence of tests and checks required to be retained by you.

In all cases, before you can start a new or change an existing service, you must conduct test transmissions to confirm that no interference comes from the new or changed transmissions. The TPGs provide essential guidance on the steps you need to follow to satisfy this requirement.

Emission standards

The TPGs contain emission requirements for AM and FM radio, digital radio and television broadcasting transmitters that operate in the broadcasting services bands.

Other services using the broadcasting services bands

The TPGs do not apply to transmitter licences for national or narrowcasting services. For these services, conditions similar to the TPGs may be applied as special conditions or by means of a Licence Condition Determination on each transmitter licence.

Broadcasting Services (Technical Planning) Guidelines 2007

The Broadcasting Services (Technical Planning) Guidelines 2017 replaced the Broadcasting Services (Technical Planning) Guidelines 2007 (2007 TPGs). The ACMA recognises that the 2007 TPGs contains information which stakeholders may find useful. A copy of the 2007 TPGs (which is provided for historical information only) is available in MS Word (1.1 MB) or PDF (3.3 MB).

Last updated: 10 October 2017