The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Tully Sugar Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese agribusiness company COFCO, after the company failed to adequately disclose its stake in Coastal Broadcasters Pty Ltd, which operates three commercial radio stations in regional Queensland.
Foreign stakeholders that hold at least 2.5 per cent ownership in Australian media companies must notify the ACMA the details of their company interests within 30 days after the end of each financial year. Tully Sugar has a 10 per cent stake in Coastal Broadcasters as part of its ongoing commitment to the local community.
“These rules are designed to provide greater transparency of foreign investment in Australian media companies,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.
“Tully Sugar failed to lodge its foreign ownership notification for 2022-23 within the required timeframe after it had been warned when it failed to do so for 2021-22.”
In January 2023 the ACMA issued Tully Sugar with a formal warning for contravening the notification requirement for 2021-22. As Tully Sugar fell short of the notification requirement for 2022-23, the ACMA commenced formal enforcement action.
The court-enforceable undertaking requires Tully Sugar to undertake an independent audit of its compliance systems and processes and implement the recommendations of the auditor. Tully Sugar will also be required to report to the ACMA on the actions taken.
Information provided in foreign ownership notifications is used by the ACMA to update the Foreign Owners of Media Assets Register and to prepare an annual report to the Minister for Communications.