25 September 2007
ACMA not to renew Armidale community radio licence
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is not renewing the community radio broadcasting licence held by Armidale Community Radio Co-Operative Ltd since 1976. The licence will expire at midnight on 3 October 2007.
The licensee's service is the only community radio service serving Armidale and surrounding towns. ACMA continues to support community broadcasting in this licence area and will therefore make the 92.1 MHz spectrum available for temporary community broadcasting.
It has invited the licensee to apply for a temporary community broadcasting licence to start from the day after the licence expires, however, the licensee may have to share the frequency with other temporary broadcasters.
'ACMA considered evidence and the submissions in support of the Armidale Community Radio's licence renewal application,' said Lyn Maddock, Acting ACMA Chair, 'ACMA has significant concerns about whether the licensee’s service meets the needs of the general community in the Armidale licence area, and also that the licensee has not satisfactorily identified and monitored the community's needs.'
ACMA also has concerns about the licensee’s management capacity, and whether its governing rules adversely affect its ability to encourage members to participate in its operations, and select and provide programming.
'Encouraging members of the community to participate is a key obligation of community broadcasters and an inability to meet this licence condition is viewed very seriously by ACMA,' added Ms Maddock. 'ACMA has therefore concluded that it should not renew Armidale Community Radio Co-Operative Ltd's licence.'
'ACMA is charged with promoting the availability of a diverse range of radio services throughout Australia, as well as ensuring that broadcasters meet all their statutory obligations. While a decision not to renew is never taken lightly and is no doubt disappointing for the licensee and its listeners, it was arrived at after considerable deliberation and after taking into account both these objectives.'
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager 02 9334 7980.
Community broadcasting licence renewals
Community broadcasting licences are issued for five years. ACMA writes to a community licensee 58 weeks before the expiry of its licence requesting that it submit an application to renew its licence no later than 52 weeks before the expiry date.
The procedures for renewing a community broadcasting licence are set out in sections 90 and 91 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The Act gives ACMA discretion to review a community broadcasting licence at the time that it is due for renewal.
Section 91(2A) of the Act enables ACMA to have regard to the same matters that it considers when allocating new community broadcasting licences under section 84(2). These matters are:
- the extent to which the proposed service would meet the existing and perceived future needs of the community within the licence area of the proposed service
- the nature and diversity of the interests of that community
- the nature and diversity of other broadcasting services (including national broadcasting services) available within that licence area
- the capacity of the applicant to provide the proposed service
- the undesirability of one person being in a position to exercise control of more than one community broadcasting licence that is a broadcasting services bands licence in the same licence area, and
- the undesirability of the Commonwealth, a state or territory or a political party being in a position to exercise control of a community broadcasting licence.
ACMA has discretion as to whether it will conduct a renewal inquiry, the form it should take and what it would consider in an inquiry. A renewal inquiry would be considered by ACMA if there were evidence to suggest, having regard to the matters set out in section 84(2) of the Act, that it would not allocate the licence to the licensee under an allocation process. ACMA may also refuse to renew a community broadcasting licence if, having regard to these matters, it considers that it would not allocate a licence to the licensee.