AM–FM conversions and infill transmitters for commercial radio broadcasters | ACMA

AM–FM conversions and infill transmitters for commercial radio broadcasters

Following consultation about issues relevant to implementing AM–FM conversion and infill transmitters, the ACMA has revised its approach to considering requests for AM–FM conversion for commercial radio broadcasting services, as well as requests from commercial radio broadcasting licensees to provide FM coverage ‘infill’ transmitters to augment the coverage of an AM or FM main transmitter.

Download the ACMA’s guidance:

The ACMA’s approach to AM–FM conversions and infill transmitters for commercial radio broadcasting services (Word, 362 KB)

Scope

This guidance applies to commercial radio broadcasting licensees seeking AM–FM conversions and/or infill transmitters (repeaters) to supplement an existing AM or FM service in a licence area.

The ACMA authorises AM-FM conversions by changing the technical specifications for the transmitter through a variation to a Licence Area Plan (LAP). Read more about the ACMA’s approach to planning for broadcast services.

The guidance does not apply to requests for AM–FM conversion or infill transmitters from licensees of community radio broadcasting services. These requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, having regard to the General Approach to Analog Planning (the general approach). The ACMA will have regard to previous decisions of the ACMA and its predecessors when considering any applications for AM to FM conversions for AM community radio broadcasting services.

Current conversion program

After consulting with industry, the ACMA has received a number of applications for AM–FM conversions in regional solus markets. A list of the regional solus markets (as agreed by industry) is set out below. The ACMA will consider those requests for Licence Area Plan (LAP) variations to facilitate AM–FM conversions in accordance with the guidance. The ACMA will also take the opportunity to deal with non-conversion-related variation requests already made in relation to the relevant LAP, wherever this is feasible, and will not unduly delay the LAP variation process for AM–FM conversion.

As the ACMA is utilising the assistance of an industry-appointed consultant engineer to perform the engineering work for most applications, the progress and timing of AM–FM conversions is dependent on industry’s sponsored work program.

Complete

State Markets

Western Australia

 

  • Karratha
  • Port Hedland
  • Remote WA (Exmouth, Paraburdoo and Tom Price)

Pending

State Markets

New South Wales

  • Armidale
  • Bathurst
  • Bega
  • Cooma
  • Goulburn
  • Grafton
  • Gunnedah
  • Inverell
  • Lismore
  • Lithgow
  • Moree
  • Nowra
  • Parkes
  • Tamworth
  • Taree
  • Young

South Australia

  • Murray Bridge
  • Port Lincoln
  • Riverland
  • Spencer Gulf North

Tasmania

  • Burnie
  • Devonport
  • Queenstown
  • Scottsdale

Victoria

  • Wangaratta
  • Warrnambool

Western Australia

  • Albany
  • Mandurah

For more general information on the ACMA’s approach to prioritising radio LAP variations, please refer to Assessing and prioritising requests to vary radio licence Area Plans (LAPs).

Broadcaster implementation

While the ACMA may facilitate an AM–FM conversion, the timing for commencement of the FM radio service is a decision for the licensee. Licensees requesting AM–FM conversion may seek a simulcasting period of the AM and FM transmitters in order to transition listeners to the FM transmission. As a general rule, the ACMA will permit simulcasting of the AM and FM services for a period of 28 days. The ACMA may consider permitting continued simulcasting of AM and FM radio services on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the policy. If the ACMA does not permit dual coverage, transmission on the AM transmitter must cease at the end of the simulcast period.

Background

In 2015, Commercial Radio Australia put a proposal to the Minister for Communications to support AM-FM conversions in single licensee (solus) regional markets where (in most cases) the licensee holds both a licence for a commercial AM service and supplementary commercial license for an FM service (issued pursuant to section 39 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992) (BSA). The minister was supportive of this proposal, subject to certain caveats, and asked the ACMA to consider his request to prioritise AM-FM conversions in the context of the ACMA’s broadcast planning responsibilities under Part 3 of the BSA.

In 2016, the ACMA published a consultation paper about issues relevant to implementing AM–FM conversions and infill transmitters. Details of how the ACMA considered those issues in revising its approach is outlined in the consultation paper, A new approach to AM–FM conversions and in-fill transmitters for commercial radio broadcasting services.

 

Last updated: 03 October 2017