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ACMA finds Queensland radio station FAB FM in breach of licence

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Queensland-based radio station FAB FM has committed to change its programming following a finding by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that it had breached its licence conditions.

FAB FM holds a licence to provide an ‘open narrowcasting service’. Under law, open narrowcasting services must be limited in some way, such as targeting special interest groups, or by providing programmes of limited appeal.

An ACMA investigation found FAB FM was broadcasting some content to a special interest group, being tourists visiting the Port Douglas region, however the proportion of material targeted at this group was low. The majority of content was targeted at a wide audience, being residents of the Douglas Shire.

Of the broadcasts reviewed by the ACMA, less than 10 per cent of automated programming provided tourist information. Of its four live-hosted programs, no more than 17 per cent of time was devoted to tourism information.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said radio broadcasters must ensure they operate within the terms of their licences or licensing arrangements.

“After a thorough investigation, we found that FAB FM is not providing open narrowcasting in accordance with its licence,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Licensees must comply with their licence conditions at all times. There are serious consequences for not doing so, including criminal proceedings and suspension or cancellation of the licence.”

The ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking made by FAB FM to take actions to comply with its licence conditions and be monitored by the ACMA for the next two years.

If the licensee breaches the enforceable undertaking, the ACMA may seek an order from the Federal Court to direct the licensee to comply or to pay an amount of money or compensation. If the licensee continues to broadcast programming that is not limited as required under the law the ACMA may suspend or cancel their licence.

The ACMA investigated FAB FM following a complaint and found FAB FM was not providing a narrowcasting service within the definition under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and breached licence conditions under the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

MR 19/2020

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