In March 2010 the ACMA commenced a sample audit under section 170 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA). The ACMA assessed selected commercial regional radio broadcasting licensees' compliance during a sample week 14 to 20 March 2010 with local content requirements. The investigations were two fold, assessing six trigger event licensees with the obligation to broadcast local news and other information in accordance with the Minimum Service Standards set out at section 61CD of the BSA, and three selected licensees with compliance with Broadcasting Services (Additional Regional Commercial Radio Licence Condition - Material of Local Significance) Notice 19 December 2007 (Local Content Licence Condition).
Sampling of licences for the audit was based on geographic representation of licences and representation of networks and licensees.
Minimum service standards for local news and information - audit findings
The ACMA investigated six trigger event affected licences' compliance with the minimum service standards for local news and information as part of the sample audit into compliance with local content requirements by regional commercial radio licensees. Trigger event affected licences represents over 40% of all regional commercial radio broadcasting licences in Australia.
The ACMA found that, during the sample week, three of the six licensees investigated met the minimum service standards for local news and information set out in Division 5C of Part C of the BSA and the other three licensees did not meet these standards. The three compliant licensees were:
- Commercial Radio Coffs Harbour Pty Ltd (2CSF Coffs Harbour, Report 2463);
- Great Southern Land Broadcasters Pty Ltd (7XXX Hobart, Report 2460); and
- North West Radio Pty Ltd (6RED Karratha, Report 2461).
The three licensees that did not meet the minimum service standards for local news during the sample week were:
- Resonate Broadcasting Pty Ltd (3GG Warragul, Report 2458);
- Radio 4HI Pty Ltd (4HI Emerald, Report 2459); and
- 5AU Broadcasters Pty Ltd (5RM Riverland, Report 2462).
The ACMA agreed on measures to be undertaken by both Resonate Broadcasting Pty Ltd and Radio 4HI Pty Ltd, in recognition that while the non compliance was a serious breach of a licence condition, they were a result of unique circumstances occurring during the sample week. The agreed measures include requirements for staff training, additional monitoring, and reporting to the ACMA for a period of 18 months on any compliance issues which arise.
The ACMA accepted an enforceable undertaking from 5AU Broadcasters Pty Ltd under section 205W of the Act. The undertaking contains a number of measures designed to ensure future compliance. The different enforcement approach for this licensee was due to the fact the impact of the breach was more extensive, with the licensee falling significantly short of meeting its minimum service standard requirements on each day during the sample week, and the fact that it appeared to be a systemic problem.
For more information, please refer to the Summary Report of the audit (PDF 249 kb).
Material of local significance (local content) - audit findings
The ACMA investigated three licences for compliance with the Local Content Licence Condition, selecting two licences operating in small licence areas (Karratha RA1 and Mt Isa RA1) and one in a larger licence area (Burnie RA1). The selected licences represent 14% of all licences that claimed programming solely on the grounds it relates to the licensee's broadcast area.
The ACMA found that, on each business day during the sample week, two of the three licensees met the minimum duration requirement to broadcast local content between the prescribed hours of 5am and 8pm. The compliant licensees were:
- Burnie Broadcasting Service Pty Ltd (7SEA, Burnie, report 2465).
- North West Radio Pty Ltd (6RED, Karratha, report 2467).
The ACMA found that one licensee, North Queensland Broadcasting Corporation Pty Ltd (4MIC, Mt Isa, report 2466), did not meet the minimum duration on any day during the sample week.
The ACMA agreed to a range of measures provided by North Queensland Broadcasting Corporation Pty Ltd. The agreed measures include the implementation of enhanced monitoring processes and procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with local content obligations.
From 1 January 2008 all regional commercial radio licensees are required to broadcast the applicable number of hours of local content during daytime hours (5 am to 8 pm) on business days. The applicable number of hours ranges from five minutes for racing and remote area service licences to three hours for regional licences with a population over 30,000 people, based on the ACMA's latest determination under section 30 of the BSA.