Open narrowcasting services are broadcasting services whose reception is limited in at least one of a number of ways specified in section 18 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992:
- by being targeted to special interest groups;
- by being intended for limited locations (e.g. arenas or business premises);
- by being provided during a limited period or to cover a special event;
- because they provide programs of limited appeal; or
- for some other reason.
Open narrowcasting services operate under the class licence provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act. Class licences are not individually issued, but are a standing authority for any operator to enter the market and provide a service, as long as the operator has access to delivery capacity and abides by the conditions applicable to the relevant category of class licence.
Class licence service providers who wish to use the broadcasting services bands part of the radiofrequency spectrum must apply to the ACMA for a transmitter licence to operate their service. Transmitter licences are issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
A transmitter licence is a form of apparatus licence issued under the Radiocommunications Act. It authorises the licensee to operate a radiocommunication transmitter in accordance with the conditions of the licence.
The ACMA issues transmitter licences for services which use the broadcasting services bands.
The ACMA will generally issue transmitter licences to provide open narrowcasting services under a price-based allocation system determined under section 106 of the Radiocommunications Act.
The duration of licences issued under the price-based allocation system is five years. At the end of the five year licence period, the ACMA may issue a new transmitter licence. The new licence may be issued either by way of price-based allocation or by way of application under section 100 of the Radiocommunications Act.
Conditions that apply to class licences
Services provided under class licences are subject to conditions under sections 118 and 119 and Part 7 Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act, and the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Broadcasting Licence) Determination No. 1 of 1998.
In 2002, the Authority varied the class licence for open narrowcasting radio services by specifying additional conditions of the licence.
Conditions that apply to transmitter licences
The conditions which apply to transmitter licences are set out in section 107 of the Radiocommunications Act. In summary, they include:
- compliance with the Radiocommunications Act;
- payment of any relevant charges and amounts of transmitter licence fee;
- that the licensee inform anyone it authorises to operate the transmitter of their obligations to comply with the Radiocommunications Act and the transmitter licence conditions; and
- any other conditions specified on the licence
- commencement of the service within six months of allocation.
Other conditions specified on the licence include a set of technical conditions which service providers must comply with when planning their facilities. These include requirements regarding:
- site restrictions and site tolerances;
- maximum and minimum radiated power;
- maximum field strength permitted;
- radiated signal characteristics; and
- test procedures to be followed when establishing transmission facilities.