In 2002, an investigation was carried out due to community concerns about the closure of news bureaus by Southern Cross Broadcasting in Canberra, Cairns, Townsville, Darwin and Alice Springs and the cutting of local news bulletins in Canberra, Newcastle and Wollongong by Prime TV.
Subsequently, the former Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) introduced a local content licence condition for regional commercial television. Broadcasters in the licence areas of Northern New South Wales, Southern New South Wales, Regional Victoria and Regional Queensland were required to meet local content obligations from 1 February 2004.
From 1 January 2008, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) extended the local content licence condition to cover licensees in Tasmania.
In 2014, the ACMA revised the local content licence condition. The latest version of the licence condition, the Broadcasting Services Additional Television Licence Conditiion) Notice 2014, commenced on 1 October 2014.
Local content condition
The local content licence condition requires all regional commercial television licensees in the five aggregated markets (including Tasmania) to broadcast material of local significance, within each specified local area, to meet minimum quotas comprising:
What are local areas and licence areas?
Local content is measured using a points system in the licence condition; points will accrue for each minute of material which directly relates to either the local area or licence area of the relevant broadcaster, excluding paid advertising.
A licence area is a broad geographical area over which the licensee is authorised to broadcast its service. For the purposes of local content licence conditions, a local area may be either a smaller area within the licence area, or the licence area itself. For example, in the licence area of Regional Queensland TV1 there are seven local areas, such as Far North Queensland or Sunshine Coast. Local areas normally reflect local communities or markets within the licence area. Local area boundaries are described in terms of Census data according to Census Collection Districts and Local Government Areas.