Category of service opinions (section 21) | ACMA

Category of service opinions (section 21)

Section 21 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992

Section 21 of the BSA allows a person who is providing, or who proposes to provide, a broadcasting service to apply to the Authority for an opinion as to which category of broadcasting services the service falls into.

The relevant categories of services under the BSA are:

  • Commercial broadcasting services
  • Community broadcasting services
  • Subscription broadcasting services
  • Subscription narrowcasting services
  • Open narrowcasting services
  • International broadcasting services.

In giving an opinion under section 21, the ACMA must have regard to a range of matters set out in section 22 of the BSA. These are the geographic coverage of the service, the number of persons who receive or are able to receive the service, the accessibility of the service, the duration and frequency of the provision of the service, the nature of the audience to which the service is targeted, the nature of the programs being provided by the service, and such other matters as the ACMA thinks fit.

An opinion is binding for a minimum of five years as long as the service remains substantially the same as that described in the application, or in additional information supplied further to the application. If the service changes substantially in any way from that which the ACMA relies on to form its opinion, for example in terms of programming, method of delivery, coverage or location, the opinion would no longer be valid.

Publication of opinions

Under section 210 of the BSA, the ACMA is required to publish an opinion given under s.21 in the Government Notices Gazette. The opinion may not be published until the service to which it relates has commenced operation.

Section 21 radio  and Section 21 TV  opinions are available for perusal.   

How do I obtain an opinion?

To obtain a section 21 opinion, you must complete the form Application for opinion on category of broadcasting service. The form is available on the website, or by contacting us.

The ACMA has determined that a fee of $14,775 is payable for providing an opinion. The fee must be paid when the application is lodged. Cheques should be made payable to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Access to the broadcasting services bands of the radiofrequency spectrum

Applicants for a section 21 opinion should note that provision of an opinion by the Authority neither permits nor implies that the subject of the opinion is entitled to have access to broadcasting spectrum.

If you intend to use broadcasting services bands spectrum to provide your service you must have a licence to use the spectrum. If you do not already have a licence that entitles you to spectrum, you may wish to contact our Planning Section in Canberra before lodging your application.

Last updated: 14 April 2016