16 July 2007
ACMA finds Groove FM failed to comply with additional licence conditions
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found the Perth youth community radio station Groove FM breached three of the additional conditions on its licence.
The licensee of Groove FM, Youth Media Society of Western Australia Inc., breached the conditions of its licence in September 2006 by:
- not broadcasting an average of four Australian music items per hour in each eight-hour period commencing 6.00 am, 2.00 pm and 10.00 pm
- not broadcasting announcements inviting listeners to become members of the station at least once an hour between 7.00 am and midnight and
- not broadcasting announcements inviting listeners to participate in talk programming at the station at least once every two hours between 7.00 am and midnight.
The breaches arose from material broadcast by the station from the 16 to 19 September 2006.
As a result of these breaches, ACMA is now considering heightened compliance measures to ensure that potential breaches of these additional licence conditions do not occur in future. ACMA has written to Youth Media Society of Western Australia outlining the proposed compliance action, details of which will be announced when finalised.
The additional licence conditions were imposed in May 2006, following an investigation by ACMA’s predecessor the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
A copy of investigation report #1784 is available on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
Additional licence conditions
The additional licence conditions, which came into effect on 1 May 2006, were imposed on the licensee following an investigation by ACMA’s predecessor, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (the ABA), in which the ABA found that the licensee had:
- breached clause 9(2)(b) of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, in that it did not continue to represent the community interest that it represented at the time the licence was allocated and
- breached clause 9(2)(c) of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act, in that it did not encourage members of the community that it served to participate in the operations of the licensee in providing the service and the selection and provision of programs under the licence.
ACMA stated at the time that the intention of the additional licence conditions was to
…ensure that Perth youth are actively invited to participate in the service, that it provides a diverse range of music and talk programming, and continues to play a high level of local and Australian music.
ACMA conducts various types of investigations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act). Investigations under Part 11 of the Act are conducted in response to complaints received by ACMA relating to a possible breach of:
- the Act, the regulations, a licence condition, a class licence or a code of practice by a licensed broadcaster, or
- a code of practice by the ABC or SBS.
If a person wishes to complain about something of concern they have seen or heard on a program broadcast by a radio or TV station and the matter is covered by a code of practice, the person must, by law, first make a written complaint to the station.
However, if a complaint relates to a matter covered by a licence condition, the person can complain directly to ACMA and need not complain to the station first.
There is a different code of practice for each broadcasting sector, and each code of practice contains a section that explains the complaints process that applies to that sector.
As some codes impose time limits for complaints, it is advisable that persons who wish to make a complaint write to the radio or TV station as soon as possible. For instance, the code of practice that applies to commercial television broadcasters enables them to decide to not respond in writing to complaints that are made more than 30 days after the date of broadcast.
When making a complaint to ACMA, the complainant must provide a copy of their complaint to the station, a copy of the station’s reply if this has been received and any other relevant correspondence with the station. ACMA takes all complaints seriously (except for those that are frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith) and acknowledges all complaints in writing.
For valid complaints, ACMA considers the information provided and offers the relevant station an opportunity to give its side of the story. When all relevant information is available, ACMA assesses the complaint against the relevant licence condition or code of practice. When an investigation is completed, ACMA is required to notify a complainant of the results of an investigation under Part 11 of the Act. The form this notification is to take is not specified in the Act – sometimes it is in the form of a letter, but more usually it takes the form of an investigation report, which is provided to both the complainant and the licensee concerned.
In general, personal or private information provided in a complaint, including name and address, are not disclosed to the licensee concerned if it is a licence condition matter. However, as code complaints are first made to a licensee, code complaints are usually made available to the relevant licensee. ACMA’s usual practice is to not provide personal or private information in an investigation report.
Under the Act, ACMA has discretion whether or not to publish the report of an investigation conducted under Part 11 of the Act. ACMA is not required to publish an investigation report if publication would disclose matter of a confidential character or would be likely to prejudice the fair trial of a person. If ACMA intends to publish an investigation report that may adversely affect the interests of a person, ACMA must give the person an opportunity to make representations in relation to the matter.