13 November 2009
New community radio broadcasting service for Goolwa
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has made spectrum available for a new community radio broadcasting service in Goolwa, South Australia.
Two aspirant community radio groups are active in Goolwa and currently operate on temporary community broadcasting licences, alternating on the one frequency.
‘Spectrum congestion in the Goolwa region means that the ACMA has been unable to identify more than one suitable frequency to accommodate interest in community broadcasting in the area,’ said Chris Chapman, Chairman of the ACMA.
‘After considering all the information before it, the ACMA believes that an additional community radio broadcasting service would add to the diversity of radio broadcasting services available at Goolwa. In addition, new services of this type are likely to have a positive effect on innovative programming and coverage of matters of local significance.’
Now that the licence area plan has been varied, the ACMA will commence the allocation process for the long-term community broadcasting licence at Goolwa.
The variation to the Murray Bridge radio licence area plan also includes a change to the frequency of community radio service 5EFM in Yankalilla, and a change to the antenna height of the community radio service 5GSFM in Victor Harbor.
‘The change to the 5EFM Yankalilla translator will alleviate interference to the off-air feed from its main transmitter in Victor Harbor, while the change in antenna height for 5GSFM’s transmitter will address coverage deficiencies in their service,’ explained Mr Chapman.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
Licence area plans
The ACMA prepares licence area plans under subsection 26(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA). Licence area plans determine the number and characteristics, including technical specifications, of broadcasting services that are to be available in particular areas of Australia with the use of the broadcasting services bands. The ACMA may vary licence area plans under subsection 26(2) of the BSA.
Section 23 of the BSA imposes specific obligations on the ACMA when carrying out its planning functions, including, amongst other things, that the ACMA is required to perform its functions in a way that promotes the objects of the Act, including the economic and efficient use of the radiofrequency spectrum.
Murray Bridge radio licence area plan
In brief, the variation to the licence area plan makes channel capacity available at frequency 96.3 MHz for a new community radio broadcasting service to serve the Goolwa area. The ACMA will invite applications for the long-term community radio broadcasting licence and assess them on a merit basis before deciding whether to allocate a licence.
The variation also changes the technical specifications of the community radio broadcasting service 5EFM so that the transmitter that serves the Yankalilla area that currently operates on frequency 88.3 MHz, will operate on the alternative frequency 94.7 MHz. The ACMA believes that this will mitigate off-air interference.
This variation will also update the description of the existing commercial and community licence areas in the Murray Bridge licence area plan so that they are defined in terms used in the 2006 census.
Consultation and submissions
Section 27 of the BSA provides that the ACMA must make provision for wide public consultation when considering whether to make or vary a licence area plan.
Before making a decision to vary the Murray Bridge LAP, the ACMA undertook the following consultation:
On 26 August 2009, the ACMA published the following papers on its website:
- a draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP;
- an explanatory paper about the changes proposed in the draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP, inviting public comment by 25 September 2009; and
- a media release announcing the proposed draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP.
On 26 August 2006, the ACMA wrote to the licensees providing radio broadcasting services to the Murray Bridge region to advise them of the release of the draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP and to invite their comments.
On 27 August 2009, the ACMA placed an advertisement in the ‘The Victor Harbor Times’ outlining the effect of the draft variation on the LAP, providing details of how to obtain copies of the draft variation, how to access it on the ACMA’s website and inviting public comment.
On 29 September 2009, the ACMA published on the ACMA’s website a revised version of the draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP following the discovery of an administrative error in the description of the licence area of the proposed long-term community broadcasting service at Goolwa. The public comment period was extended to 14 October 2009.
On 29 September 2009, the ACMA also wrote to the existing radio broadcasting licensees alerting them to the revised draft variation and the extension for public comment.
The ACMA received two submissions on the draft variation to the Murray Bridge LAP and accompanying explanatory paper.
Allocation of Community Licences
The ACMA will invite applications for the long-term community radio broadcasting licence and assess them on a merit basis before deciding whether to allocate a licence.
In deciding whether to allocate a licence to an applicant, the ACMA takes into account:
- the extent to which the proposed service would meet the existing and perceived future needs of the community within the licence area
- 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 service in the same licence area
- the undesirability of the Commonwealth, state or territory or a political party being in a position to exercise control of a community broadcasting licence.