The Australian Communications and Media Authority has issued remedial directions to Sunshine FM Radio Association Inc., the licensee of a mature-age community radio service on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
The licensee of 4SFM is required take action to remedy breaches of two licence conditions found in an ACMA investigation in August 2013. The breaches relate to the requirements to:
> continue to represent the community interest; and
> encourage participation in the selection of programs.
To represent their community interest in a licence area, community broadcasting services must be responsive to community needs. This includes identifying and monitoring those needs, encouraging members of the community to provide feedback about programming, and responding by implementing appropriate programming changes. Monitoring mechanisms used by community broadcasting licensees include newsletters, surveys, on-air announcements and engagement with local groups, including at community events.
4SFM was given many opportunities since the breach findings were made to implement agreed measures and it was advised of the consequences of non-compliance, including escalation to formal enforcement action.
If 4SFM fails to comply with the remedial directions within the specified timeframe, it would be open to the ACMA to take further action, including the suspension or cancellation of the licence.
For more information, see the Backgrounder below or contact Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Media release 68/2014 - 23 October
In August 2013, the ACMA had made findings in Investigation No. 3031 that 4SFM had breached two licence conditions.
In September 2013, 4SFM undertook to implement measures to remedy the breaches. As a result, the ACMA decided to take no further action at that time, noting that 4SFM would report on implementation by February 2014.
Since that time, however, the ACMA’s encouragement of 4SFM to achieve voluntary compliance has not worked.
The ACMA considers that remedial directions which reflect the measures agreed in September 2013 are appropriate in this instance, noting that 4SFM should have implemented those actions many months ago.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA), community broadcasting licensees are required to comply with licence conditions at Parts 1, 2 and 5 of Schedule 2 to the BSA.
These licence conditions include requirements of a licensee to:
> continue to represent the community interest that it represented at the time when the licence was allocated or was last renewed; and
> encourage members of the community to participate in the selection of programs provided under the licence.
The approach at subsection 4(2) of the BSA indicates that regulation is to be addressed in a manner that does not impose unnecessary financial and administrative burdens on a licensee.
In keeping with the principles in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 – Enforcement Guidelines of the ACMA, enforcement action is to be commensurate with the seriousness of the conduct.
Further, according to the principles and approaches outlined in the ACMA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy, the minimum power or intervention necessary is generally used to secure voluntary compliance by a licensee.
However, if informal resolution is unsuccessful, escalation to formal enforcement is generally considered to ensure that a licensee rectifies a breach or that it takes action to ensure that the breach does not recur.