The ACMA’s role, powers, functions and policy objectives are set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005. The policy objectives include:
- the desirability of program diversity
- limits on concentration of media ownership
- limits on foreign control of the mass media
- a need for media to help foster an Australian cultural identity
- the fair reporting of news
- respect for community standards.
The ACMA's role in the regulation of television broadcasters covers:
- planning the radiofrequency spectrum that television services use
- the assignment of digital TV channels
- administering broadcast licences
- administering broadcasting codes of practice, standards and licence conditions.
The ACMA provides information to the public about the television channels available to them through a search by postcode facility. Information about analog and digital television reception is also provided by the ACMA.
The ACMA is able to receive complaints about the content of programs on television, including ABC and SBS services. However, in most cases complaints must first be made to the broadcaster concerned.