Complaining to a broadcaster | ACMA

Complaining to a broadcaster

If you have a broadcasting complaint, in most cases, you should complain to the TV or radio broadcaster first, as they are primarily responsible for the material they broadcast.  

It’s important to contact the broadcaster first if you are complaining about something covered by a code of practice. Most programming matters are covered by these codes, including things like accuracy and impartiality in news, distressing content and classification on TV.

There is a different code of practice for each broadcasting sector, and your complaint to the broadcaster has to be made in the way specified in that code, so check the relevant code that applies to the broadcaster you wish to complain about. This information is summarised below.

How to complain
Commercial free-to-air television
Subscription television or radio 
Commercial radio
ABC
SBS
Narrowcasters
Standards and licence conditions
What if I’m not satisfied?

How to complain

Your complaint must adequately identify the material of concern:

  • give details such as the date/s of broadcast
  • clearly explain the nature of your complaint

Keep a record of your complaint:

  • keep a copy of any letter or email you send to a broadcaster
  • if you lodge a complaint electronically, make and keep a printed copy and a record of the time and date your message was sent.

Complain to commercial free-to-air television stations

Complaints to commercial television stations must be made within 30 days of the broadcast. They must be made either:

The complaint should identify the material broadcast (including the program name, date, time and channel), the town or city in Australia you were in when you saw the broadcast, the nature of your complaint and your name and contact details.

If you are posting a complaint to a station, you may wish to send it registered mail, in order to ensure the station receives it.

Complain to subscription television or radio stations

Complaints to subscription services can be made:

  • by telephone
  • in writing (including email).

Your complaint must identify in sufficient detail the material broadcast (including the program name, date and time), the nature of your complaint, and your name and contact details.

You should keep a dated copy of any correspondence between you and the broadcaster.

If your complaint is about a Foxtel channel or service, you can access more information about ways to lodge a complaint by searching the term ‘complaints’ at www.foxtel.com.au.

Complain to commercial radio stations

Complaints to commercial radio stations must contain a clear assertion that the station has broadcast matter which, in your opinion, breaches the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice 2015.

Complaints to commercial radio stations must be made within 30 days of the broadcast, otherwise the station is not obliged to respond to it. Complaints must be made:

  • by letter
  • via an online electronic complaint form—most stations have a complaint form available on their website.

Complain to the ABC

Complaints about a radio or TV program broadcast by an ABC service can be made:

Complaints should be made within six weeks of the broadcast and contain your name and contact information. It should contain the name of the program and the TV or radio service it was broadcast on, the date of the broadcast and the nature of your complaint, including the relevant code provision.

The ABC website has more information.

Complain to SBS

Complaints about a radio or television program broadcast by an SBS service can be made:

Complaints should be made within six weeks of the broadcast and contain your name and contact information. It should contain the name of the program and TV or radio service it was broadcast on, your location when you saw or heard the material, the date of the broadcast and the nature of your complaint, including the relevant code provision, if possible.

The SBS website has more information.

Complain to narrowcasters

Complaints should contain your name and contact information. It should contain the name of the program, the date and time of the broadcast, your location when you heard the material and the nature of your complaint, including the relevant code provision, if possible.

Complaints can be made:

  • by phone
  • by mail
  • via email
  • via the licensee’s website (if available).

Make sure you keep a dated copy of any correspondence between you and the narrowcaster.

How can I complain about standards and licence conditions?

You can complain directly to the ACMA about a matter relating to a standard or licence condition without first taking the matter to the broadcaster. More information is on our broadcasting complaints page.

What if I have complained to the broadcaster and I am not satisfied?

If you are not satisfied with the response from the broadcaster, or have not heard back from the broadcaster after 60 days, you can complain to the ACMA.

Please include the following documents when referring your complaint to the ACMA:

  • a copy of your complaint to the broadcaster
  • a copy of the broadcaster’s response (if you receive one)
  • any other relevant communication with the broadcaster.

You can submit your complaint:

View the ACMA’s privacy policy.

Last updated: 17 December 2012