23 November 2007
Community broadcasting sponsorship guidelines released for comment
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking industry comment on Draft Community Broadcasting Sponsorship Guidelines.
In an environment where the sector is testing new business models to improve its viability, it has been looking to ACMA to provide greater clarity and guidance.
Based on an analysis of ACMA investigations into community broadcasting issues in the five years from 2002-03 to 2006-07, it was evident that the main areas of concern include the following:
- what constitutes an advertisement
- what constitutes a sponsorship announcement and should therefore be included in the calculation of the 5-minute limit for radio or 7-minute limit for television
- material that may be an accidental or incidental accompaniment to the broadcast of other matter and therefore not considered an advertisement
- what constitutes a promotion of a licensee’s service or a program
- material broadcast as part of a program that may be considered advertising
- a licensee’s responsibility for material broadcast despite having sold air time, including sponsorship slots, to programs providers.
These areas have specifically been addressed in revising the sponsorship guidelines, which provide a more detailed document to better meet their needs.
Comments marked ‘Community Sponsorship Guidelines’ are to be provided by 1 March 2008 to the Manager, Investigations Section, Australian Communications & Media Authority, at:
PO Box Q500
Queen Victoria Building
SYDNEY NSW 1230
Fax: (02) 9334 7799
The draft community broadcasting sponsorship guidelines are available on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager (02) 9334 7980.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act), all community broadcasting licensees are subject to a licence condition that prevents them from broadcasting advertisements.
However, community broadcasting licensees may broadcast a range of announcements and other promotional material that are not classified as advertising under the Act.
Understanding the difference between permitted promotional material and advertisements is important for community broadcasters. This is because failure to comply will breach a licence condition which carries with it the possibility of serious penalties, including licence suspension and cancellation.
In November 2003, the former Australian Broadcasting Authority issued Guidelines for broadcasting sponsorship announcements and other promotional material on community radio and community television.
It became apparent from an analysis of investigations into licensees’ compliance with the licence condition preventing them from broadcasting advertisements that those guidelines required revision if they were to continue to be of assistance to licensees. Consequently, the Australian Communications & Media Authority is undertaking a review of the guidelines.
Based on feedback from the industry sector since the guidelines first came into effect in 2003, ACMA has taken into consideration the following matters in revising the guidelines:
- limiting, as much as possible, the use of legalistic terminology;
- the inclusion of more examples, using completed investigations as a point of reference;
- the structure of the document reflecting the approach that a community broadcaster would take in considering material for broadcast eg is it an advertisement; if it is, does it qualify for an exemption; etc; and
- how a complaint about advertising would normally be assessed, including ordinary English meanings of words used and an ordinary reasonable viewer/listener’s perception of the material broadcast.
It is not possible for one set of guidelines to capture all potential scenarios. Information on a range of matters is already available eg on complaints and investigations on ACMA’s website and in the brochure on the complaints process; on the community codes on the ACMA and CBAA websites.
The guidelines are advisory only and are designed to help licensees to improve their practices. They do not replace the requirements of the Act. If in doubt, licensees should seek independent legal advice on the application of the Act to particular situations.