The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Prime Television (Victoria) Pty Limited, a licensee of the Seven Network, in breach of the local content rules.
Seven has not broadcast any local content in Mildura during the 16-month period since it has had a regulatory obligation to do so.
The requirement for Seven to provide local content in the Mildura area was triggered when Seven acquired the Prime regional television network in December 2021. The local content rules began to apply to the Mildura service and to former Prime services acquired by Seven in other regional markets from July 2022. This was the first time these rules were triggered following a network acquisition. Seven met the local content requirement for its television services in seven other regional markets.
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, regional commercial TV licensees must broadcast a minimum amount of local news or other material of local significance. Seven is obliged to provide 100 minutes of local content or 50 minutes of local news per week as a condition of its licence to broadcast TV in the Mildura area.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said local content is hugely important for regional audiences.
“Regional television audiences are entitled to content that is meaningful to their local area and, in the case of Mildura and its surrounding areas, Seven has let its viewers down.”
“This is especially disappointing given a network of Seven’s size and sophistication should have been on top of and meeting its regulatory obligations.”
“The period of non-compliance has remained unresolved for more than a year, to the detriment of local residents in and around Mildura,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
Non-compliance was discovered by the ACMA after reviewing compliance reports submitted by Seven.
Following this breach by Seven, the ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from the licensee, requiring it to take steps to begin complying with the local content rules by no later than 4 February 2024.