23 December 2005
ACMA sets a designated time for a third commercial television service in Darwin
The licensees of Darwin’s two commercial television stations will have 90 days from 1 January 2006 to either jointly or separately indicate their intention to apply for a third, digital only, free to air commercial television licence for the Darwin area.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has determined 1 January 2006 as the ‘designated time’ to apply in the Darwin commercial television market.
‘Setting the designated time commences the process that may lead to the establishment of a third commercial television service for Darwin, unless some other mutual agreement is reached by the licensees,’ said Lyn Maddock, Acting ACMA Chair.
‘The provision of a third commercial television service in Darwin will provide people living in Darwin with the same number of free to air television services available in all metropolitan areas of Australia,’ she said.
The existing commercial television licensees in Darwin are Territory Television Pty Ltd (Nine Network), licensee of NTD Darwin and Telecasters Australia Pty Ltd (Southern Cross Broadcasters) licensee of TND Darwin. The licensees may apply for the third licence as a joint venture company or separately.
After submitting a written notice within 90 days of the designated time, the joint venture company or single applicants must apply for the licence within 12 months of the designated time. If Nine Network and Southern Cross decide to apply separately for the licence, ACMA will conduct an auction to sell the licence to the highest bidder.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
Section 38B of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) sets out the process for the allocation of a new commercial television licence to licensees in markets where there are two commercial television licences in force. As long as neither of the existing licences were allocated under section 38A of the Act, the existing licensees may either apply for a licence as a joint venture company or apply separately.
When can a section 38B licence be allocated?
There are two steps involved in applying for a section 38B licence.
First, the existing licensees may give ACMA a single or joint ‘written notice’ stating that they will apply for an additional licence in the licence area within 90 days after the designated time for the licence area. The designated time for the Darwin licence area, has been determined by ACMA as 1 January 2006.
Secondly, the joint-venture company or single applicant may apply in writing to ACMA for an additional licence within 12 months after the designated time for the licence area.
In accordance with the legislation, ACMA must allocate an additional licence to a joint venture company under s38B if ACMA is satisfied that the company is jointly owned by the existing licensees.
If ACMA receives applications from both of the existing licensees, it must allocate the licence under a price-based allocation system determined by ACMA.
If ACMA receives only one application from an existing licensee, it must allocate the additional licence to that licensee.
What is the allocation fee?
There is a fee of $12,000 for the allocation of a section 38B licence if there is only one applicant.
Some important features of licences allocated under s38B
ACMA must not allocate a licence to an applicant if the applicant is not a company formed in Australia with a share capital or if ACMA decides that the applicant is not a suitable applicant in the terms set out in section 41(2) of the Act.
If the licence is allocated to a joint-venture company it is not possible to transfer the licence for a period of two years after the date of allocation.
This is the third commercial television licence that has been offered under section 38B, the previous licences being offered in the Mildura and Tasmania licence areas.