18 May 2007
New digital commercial television service for Darwin
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has allocated a commercial television broadcasting licence to provide a digital-only service for Darwin, Northern Territory.
The licence was allocated to Darwin Digital Television Pty Ltd, a joint-venture company owned by the two existing commercial television broadcasting licensees in the Darwin television licence area: Regional Television Pty Ltd (Southern Cross Darwin) and Territory Television Pty Ltd (NTD Nine).
‘This is an exciting development for the people of Darwin and will add to the diversity of programming in the area,’ said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. ‘The new service will join the four digital television services already operating in Darwin, ABC on channel 30, NTD Nine on channel 31, Southern Cross Darwin on channel 32 and SBS on channel 29.’
Darwin Digital Television will operate its new service on channel 33 in Darwin and on channel 47 in Darwin North and will broadcast to the same area as the existing commercial television broadcasting services in the Darwin television licence area.
The licensee has 12 months to commence the new service.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 provides for the allocation of an additional commercial television broadcasting licence in markets where only two commercial television broadcasting licences are in force. The additional commercial television broadcasting service is to operate in digital mode only.
ACMA has released today an explanatory paper and variation to the digital channel plans for Northern Territory: Part 1 - Darwin, which assigns UHF channels 33 and 47 to Darwin Digital Television Pty Ltd.
The digital channel plans also include the allotment and assignment of digital channels for the national and commercial television repeater services in Darwin North.
The explanatory paper and variation to the digital channel plans are available on ACMA’s website or by calling Freecall 1800 226 667.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, (02) 9334 7980.
In markets where there are existing two commercial television licences, and neither of these was allocated under section 38A of the Broadcasting Services Act, ACMA may allocate a second commercial television licence to the licensees, under section 38B of the Act. The existing licensees may either apply for a licence as a joint venture company or apply separately.
Applying for a section 38B licence
There are two steps 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 to serve the licence area within 90 days of the designated time for the licence area. The designated time for a licence area outside a remote licence area is the date of the commencement of section 38B, which is 1 January 2001. The designated time for a licence area that is, or overlaps with, a remote licence area is determined by ACMA.
The designated time for the Darwin television licence area, which overlaps with the Remote Central and Eastern Australia television licence area, is 1 January 2006. ACMA received a joint notification from the existing licensees on 30 March 2006.
Second, the joint-venture company or single applicant may apply in writing to ACMA for an additional licence within 12 months of the designated time for the licence area. Darwin Digital Television Pty Ltd applied for the additional licence on 18 December 2006.
In accordance with the legislation, the ACMA must allocate, under section 38B, an additional licence to a joint venture company as long as it is satisfied that the company is jointly owned by the existing licensees.
If ACMA receives applications from both the existing licensees, it must allocate the licence under a price-based allocation system which it determines. Should ACMA receives only one application from an existing licensee, it must allocate the additional licence to that licensee.
What is the allocation fee?
The ACMA has determined an allocation fee of $10,000 for section 38B licences.
Some important features of licences allocated under section 38B
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 it decides that the applicant is not suitable according to the terms 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 two years following the date of allocation.