Trigger event obligations | ACMA

Trigger event obligations

Announcement

An online lodgement system is available for regional commercial radio licensees to submit all local content and trigger event compliance reports and declarations.

Regulatory requirements—trigger events

Relevant regional commercial radio broadcasting licensees affected by a ‘trigger event’ must meet minimum service standards for local news and information and maintain local presence requirements. Trigger event affected licensees must also report to the ACMA on their compliance with these requirements.

Important note
The minimum service standards and local presence requirements do not apply to:

  • licences allocated under subsection 40(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992
  • regional racing service radio licences
  • remote area service radio licences.

What is a ‘trigger event’?

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 specifies that a trigger event is any of the following:

  • a transfer of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence prior to 15 October 2012
  • a change in control of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence where a person either starts to be or ceases to be in a position to exercise control of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence
  • the formation of a new registrable media group, which includes a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence, or
  • a change of controller of a registrable media group, which includes a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 also sets out exceptions that specify when a change of control of a regional commercial radio broadcasting licence does not constitute a trigger event. These exceptions relate to:

  • the transfer of shares to a near relative for no consideration; and
  • changes of control attributable to circumstances beyond the control of the controllers.

The Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio) Regulation 2013 provides exemptions from trigger events for a variety of scenarios which relate to certain corporate group restructures where there is a substantial continuity of control of the relevant licence or registrable media group from higher up the corporate chain.

Minimum service standards

Minimum service standards in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 require trigger event affected regional commercial radio licences to broadcast certain levels of local news, weather and information in perpetuity.

Local news

Local news bulletins broadcast by trigger event affected licences must be the greater of:

  • at least five eligible local news bulletins each week, or
  • the average weekly number of eligible local news bulletins broadcast under the licence in the benchmark year (i.e. the year ending on the Saturday before the day when the most recent trigger event occurred).

An ‘eligible local news bulletin’ must meet the following requirements:

  • bulletins must be broadcast on at least five days per week
  • the total duration of bulletins broadcast on each of those days must be at least 12.5 minutes
  • bulletins must be broadcast during prime-time hours (between 5 am and 8 pm)
  • bulletins must adequately reflect matters of local significance
  • none of the bulletins may consist wholly of material that has previously been broadcast in the licence area.

Local weather

Trigger event affected licences must broadcast at least five eligible local weather bulletins each week.

An ‘eligible local weather bulletin’ must meet the following requirements:

  • bulletins must be broadcast on at least five days per week  
  • bulletins must broadcast during prime-time hours (between 5 am and 8 pm).

Community service announcements

Trigger event affected licensees must broadcast at least one local community service announcement each week.

A local community service announcement is:

  • community information, or community promotional material, for the broadcast of which the licensee does not receive any consideration in cash or in kind.

Emergency warnings

Trigger event affected licensees must broadcast emergency service warnings on occasions when requested to do so by an emergency service agency.

An emergency service agency is:

  • a police force or service, a fire service, or, where applicable, a body that runs an emergency service specified in the regulations.

Five-week exemption period each year

Relevant regional commercial radio licensees are not required to meet the minimum service standards for local news and information during a prescribed five week period each year.

The default five week period commences on the second Sunday in December each year. This default period applies to all licensees unless the ACMA has specified a different period for a licence. 

Regional commercial radio licensees can request the ACMA to specify a different five week exemption period for the licence by completing a Holiday Period Request Form and submitting it to the ACMA.

Local presence requirements

Local presence requirements are set out in the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio—Local Presence) Licence Condition 2014.

The local presence requirements relate to maintaining local staffing levels and facilities.

The requirement to maintain the existing level of local presence applies for 24 months starting from the date of the trigger event.

Trigger event reporting

Initial reporting to the ACMA after a trigger event

Within 90 days of a trigger event occurring for a regional commercial radio licence, the licensee must provide the ACMA with:

  • a draft local content plan setting out how the licensee intends to meet the minimum service standards for local news and information
  • a notification about the existing levels of local presence.

If affected by a trigger event, licensees may submit their draft local content plans and their notification about the existing levels of local presence using the ACMA's online lodgement system.

Go to the ACMA's online lodgement system now.

Approved local content plans are available on the Register of approved local content plans on the ACMA website.

Ongoing reporting to the ACMA

Licensees must report their compliance with the minimum service standards set out in their approved local content plan as part of their annual reporting by 30 September of each year.

Licensees must report their compliance with the local presence licence condition at the end of the 24 month periods noted above.

You may submit the ongoing reports relating to your trigger event obligations online using the ACMA's online lodgement system.

Go to the ACMA's online lodgement system now.

Help directory

This directory provides you with documents and links to information about submitting your annual compliance declaration online.

Further information

You can email the ACMA’s Regional Commercial Radio Local Content Team at localcontentradio@acma.gov.au or phone (02) 9334 7700 for specific advice about your trigger event obligations.

Licensees may be contacted by the ACMA about the compliance information they have provided. Contact will be directed to the person who submitted the information on behalf of the licensee.

Related documents

Legislation and instruments

Handbook and forms

  • Local content and trigger event compliance handbook 2013–14  (Word, 3.4 MB)

Last updated: 07 December 2017