The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) requires all media operations to notify the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) of information about their controllers.
Notifications of changes in control
Each licensee of a commercial radio licence or commercial television licence, and each publisher of an associated newspaper must notify the ACMA when a person becomes, or ceases to be, in a position to exercise control of the licence, within ten business days of the licensee becoming aware of the event.
Similarly, anyone who gains a position to exercise control of a commercial radio licence, commercial television licence or associated newspaper must notify the ACMA within ten business days of the licensee becoming aware of the event.
Penalties for failing to lodge a notification
Failure to lodge a required notification is an offence of strict liability.
The ACMA can refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions. If an offence is proven a court can impose a fine of $90,000 if a breach relates to a commercial television broadcasting licence or an associated newspaper. For a commercial radio broadcasting licence a fine of $9,000 may be imposed.
Alternatively, the ACMA may give an infringement notice under which a person or company is required to pay the stated penalty.
How to notify the ACMA
The ACMA operates an online lodgement facility for submitting notifications. The accompanying guidance notes are also available as part of the online facility.
Changes to control should be submitted using ACMA B2/B3 - Notifications of changes in control for licensees, publishers and controllers.
For restricted datacasting licensees, changes of control should be submitted using the B92/3 form. Email email@example.com for these forms.
What will the ACMA do with this information?
These reporting requirements have been designed to provide the ACMA with the information it needs to monitor and enforce the control and diversity limits defined in the BSA.
The ACMA maintains a Media control database and Register of controlled media groups providing details of current controllers of commercial radio and television licences and associated newspapers. The ACMA updates the database and register on an unconfirmed basis within two business days of receiving notification of a change of control. The ACMA will review and confirm or cancel the entry within 28 days. Similar requirements apply to removal and alteration of entries.
A report on recent Control Notifications and a register of Approvals and Notices under Part 5 of the BSA are also available.
The database, register and reports are open for public inspection and a person is entitled to be given a copy of, or an extract from, any entry. The ACMA may charge fees for these services.
Any party to a proposed media control transaction may request the ACMA to enter a media group in the Register of Controlled Media Groups when the transaction is close to completion but not yet complete.
Requests relating to conditional transactions must be made by using form ACMA B21 - Request in relation to a conditional transaction. Forms and accompanying guidance notes are available on the Broadcasting forms page. Forms should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org