Under section 40 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, ACMA may allocate to a person, on application in writing by the person, a commercial broadcasting licence that is not a licence referred to in section 36(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act.
- What are the differences between section 40 licences and normal commercial broadcasting licences?
- Content and carriage
- Planning and allocation of licences
- Other provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act
- The broadcasting services bands
- Licence area
- Applications for section 40 licences
One of the most significant differences between section 40 licences and normal commercial broadcasting licences is that a service licensed under section 40 may not use the broadcasting services bands (BSB) to deliver its service (see below for a description of the broadcasting services bands). The Broadcasting Services Act sets out significantly different regulatory regimes for commercial broadcasting services that use the broadcasting services bands and those that do not.
A licence for a commercial broadcasting service which uses the broadcasting services bands entitles the licensee to provide a service ('content') and to gain access to the means of carriage of the service: the broadcasting services bands in the radiofrequency spectrum. Because the spectrum is a scarce public resource, commercial broadcasting licences which use the broadcasting services bands are limited in supply.
In contrast, licences allocated under section 40 only entitle the licence holder to provide a commercial broadcasting service, that is, they are content-only licences. Section 40 licences confer no rights of carriage and licence holders must make their own arrangements about obtaining a means of delivering the service. For section 40 licences there is therefore no question of either spectrum scarcity or use of a public resource. The number of non-BSB commercial broadcasting licences is potentially unlimited.
Two other important areas of difference between broadcasting services bands and non-broadcasting services bands services relate to the planning and allocation of licences for new services.
The Broadcasting Services Act sets out detailed provisions relating to the planning of new broadcasting services bands commercial services. When a new broadcasting services bands licence is made available by the ACMA as an outcome of the planning process, it may only be allocated using the ACMA's auction-style price-based allocation system.
In contrast to this, there are no requirements in the Broadcasting Services Act for planning broadcasting services which do not use the BSB, and section 40 licences may be allocated by the ACMA on application in writing.
Other provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act which apply to commercial services which use the broadcasting services bands, such as licence conditions, duration of licences and the requirement to pay annual licence fees, also apply to non-broadcasting services bands services.
The broadcasting services bands are the designated parts of the radiofrequency spectrum which have been referred to the ACMA for planning under section 31 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992. Normal analog commercial broadcasting services (AM and FM radio services and free-to-air UHF and VHF television services) are provided on the broadcasting services bands which are:
- 526.5 to 1606.5 kHz;
- 45 to 52 MHz and 56 to 70 MHz (Band I);
- 85 to 108 MHz (Band II);
- 137 to 144 MHz (channel 5A);
- 174 to 230 MHz (Band III);
- 520 to 820 MHz (Bands IV and V).
Before allocating a section 40 licence the ACMA must designate a particular area in Australia as the licence area of the licence.
Applications for section 40 licences must be on the form approved by the ACMA (ACMA B20T) and must be accompanied by the application fee determined by the ACMA. Fees are reviewed from time to time. Please contact Radiocommunications Licensing and Telecommunications Deployment for the current fee.