From 1 January 2008, regional commercial radio broadcasting licensees must broadcast specified levels of material of local significance.
Since 4 April 2007, regional commercial radio broadcasting licensees must maintain a local presence and comply with minimum service standards following a 'trigger event'. A trigger event is the change in control of the licence, the formation of a new registrable media group or the change of controller of a registrable media group.
Applying the local content and local presence rules
The rules apply to regional commercial radio broadcasting licences, that is, commercial radio broadcasting licences with a licence area that is not a metropolitan licence area. A metropolitan licence area is described in section 43C of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
The rules do not apply to the following types of regional commercial radio broadcasting licences:
- a remote area service radio licence (as defined in section 6 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992)
- a regional racing service radio licence (as described in section 8F of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992) or
- a licence allocated under subsection 40(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.
Local content levels
To comply with section 43C of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the ACMA imposed a local content licence condition on all regional commercial radio broadcasting licences. The licence condition is contained in the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio—Material of Local Significance) Licence Condition 2014.
This licence condition applies from 1 January 2008 and requires the broadcast of the applicable number of hours of material of local significance during daytime hours (5 am to 8 pm) each business day. The applicable number of hours is: 30 minutes for small licences and three hours for all other licences.
To comply with section 43B of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the ACMA has imposed a local presence licence condition on regional commercial radio broadcasting licensees—Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio—Local Presence) Licence Condition 2014.
Before imposing the condition, the ACMA consulted all regional commercial radio broadcasting licensees and industry groups about the proposed licence condition. As a result of submissions received, ACMA made some significant changes to the local presence licence condition.
The local presence licence condition requires regional commercial radio licensees affected by a trigger event to maintain the existing level of local presence from three months before the trigger event (defined by reference to staffing levels and studios and other production facilities) for a period of 24 months after the trigger event.
Minimum service standards—local news and information
Since 4 April 2007, following a trigger event, affected licensees must meet minimum service standards for local news, local weather, local community service announcements, emergency warnings and, where applicable, designated local content programs.
After a trigger event, affected licensees must also give the ACMA a draft local content plan within 90 days. The local content plan must set out how the licensee will comply with the minimum service standards. The plan is subject to approval by the ACMA. Once approved, the licensee must take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the plan, and submit an annual compliance report.
Consequences of failing to comply with obligations
Failure to comply with the local content and local presence rules, or the minimum service standards for local news and information will amount to a breach of licence condition. The ACMA may take enforcement action on any breach. Enforcement actions available to the ACMA will include the issue of remedial directions, or the acceptance of enforceable undertakings.
For further information, go to www.acma.gov.au/mediareform.
Tel: (02) 9334 7941
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Please note: this document is intended as a guide only and should not be relied on as legal advice or regarded as a substitute for legal advice in individual cases.