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Licence area populations in the Section 30 Schedule

The population of a licence area is important. We use it to manage media control and diversity and to set the rules for local content.

Search the Section 30 schedule

Find licence area details for all commercial services by:

This is a Schedule in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA).

What each licence area contains

The licence areas use data from the 2021 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census. We updated them in August 2023. Each licence area includes:

  • population
  • area in km2 
  • the type of licence and ‘classifier’ code
  • a map of the licence area
  • a description of the licence area 
  • spatial data
  • details of any areas that overlap*

Across Australia, many licence areas overlap. When you check the population, consider all licence areas that overlap. Part 5, Section 51 of the BSA defines 'overlap'. Areas overlap if the population in the overlap area is more than 30% of the total population of either area. Section 51 of the BSA does not apply to Division 5A.

About licence areas

A licence area is a geographical area that is in a licence area plan (LAP). We use ABS census data to provide a legal determination under section 30. This determination states the:

  • population of Australia
  • population of each licence area
  • % of the population of Australia that the licence area represents
  • % of a population in one licence area that is also in another licence area

We update these figures in a new determination as soon as new census data is available. We must also make a new determination if we change a licence area plan in a way that affects its geographic boundaries. 

Licence areas set where a broadcaster can operate:

  • commercial broadcast services
  • community broadcast services
  • services licensed under Section 40 of the BSA

Details of the types and number of services in a licence area are in the licence area plan.

Standard classifier codes

The coverage of different transmitters in a licence area may vary. If this happens, a geographic area may cover up to 9 licence areas. In the list of standard classifier codes, ‘x’ is a licence area number from 1 to 9.

  • RAx for radio services
  • TVx for television services
  • DCx for datacasting services
  • S40 for services licensed under Section 40 of the BSA


Why population figures are important

Population numbers are relevant to the media content and diversity rules in Part 5 of the BSA. We use the figures to limit the control of licence holders. This makes the media landscape more diverse in Australia.

The local content licence condition also uses the figures. They define whether a licence holder operates in a 'small' licence area. This affects how much local content they must broadcast. For example:

  • ‘small’ licences (licence area populations under 30,000) must broadcast 30 minutes of local content each day
  • ‘other’ (population 30,000 or more) must broadcast 3 hours of local content each day

What happens when the population changes

We have to make a new determination if population data changes after a census. This may mean the details of the licence area change and the licence holder no longer meets the rules in the BSA:

  • Division 2 (Limitation on Control)
  • Division 3 (Limitation Directorships)

The licence holder is not able to control the population numbers in an area. If the new determination would put the licence holder in breach of a condition, the ACMA treats it as if the numbers of the most recent determination where it was not in breach were still in force. This arrangement has effect for the next 5 years.

This is in line with:

  • Section 52 of the BSA
  • Subsection 43C(4) of the BSA - local content
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