This page provides a summary of local content requirements for regional commercial television. Detailed information for industry can be found on our Local areas and licensees page.
Where do local content requirements apply?
The government uses a points system to ensure that larger regional communities have access to local content, such as news broadcasts.
The system applies to the regional commercial television broadcasting licensees (regional broadcasters) which operate in seven regional television licence areas, which are known as ‘regional aggregated commercial television licence areas’. They are:
- Northern New South Wales TV1
- Southern New South Wales TV1
- Regional Victoria TV1
- Eastern Victoria TV1
- Western Victoria TV1
- Regional Queensland TV1
- Tasmania TV1.
Find out more about TV licence areas.
What local content requirements apply to regional broadcasters?
The regional broadcasters must broadcast, in each of their licence areas, minimum quotas of material of local significance, comprising:
- a minimum of 720 points per six-week period
- a minimum requirement of 90 points per week.
Under the points system:
- 2 points are accumulated for each minute of news that ‘directly relates to a local area’
- 1 point is accumulated for each minute of:
- other material that directly relates to the local area or the licence area (for example, a community service announcement)
- news that ‘directly relates to the licence area’.
There are some additional rules about accumulating points, including the following:
- broadcasters need to accrue at least 50% of their points with material that relates directly to the local area
- a broadcaster cannot accrue more than 10% of its points through community service announcements
- material of local significance does not include advertising or sponsorship material unless it is a community service announcement.
What is ‘material of local significance’?
Material of local significance is information that relates directly to either a specific ‘local area’ within a particular licence area, or the whole of a licence area. This broad definition enables broadcasters to identify a wide range of material that may be of significance to a particular community.
What is a ‘local area’?
A local area is a smaller region within a regional licence area. Larger regional licence areas usually comprise several local areas. A local area in a smaller licence area is usually the same as that entire licence area.
Where a larger licence area comprises several local areas, a broadcaster does not have to broadcast material of local significance in all those local areas. To accumulate points to demonstrate compliance, a licensee can nominate specific local areas.
For example, in the Regional Queensland TV1 licence area, there are seven local areas:
- Central Coast and Whitsundays
- Darling Downs
- Far North Queensland
- North Queensland
- Sunshine Coast
- Wide Bay.
Each of the three broadcasters in that licence area have nominated five of the seven local areas in which to accrue points:
- TNQ (Southern Cross)—Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Capricornia, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast
- STQ (Seven Queensland)—Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Central Coast & Whitsundays, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast
- RTQ (WIN TV)—Far North Queensland, North Queensland, Capricornia, Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs.
What about local content obligations on broadcasters in other regional licence areas?
The local content obligations currently apply only to broadcasters in the seven aggregated regional television licence areas mentioned above. However, this may change when a ‘trigger event’ occurs.
A ‘trigger event’ occurs upon a person:
- being in a position to exercise control of 2 or more commercial television broadcasting licences
- where the combined population in the licence areas relating to those licences is more than 75% of the Australian population; and
- at least one of the licences held by that person is a regional commercial television broadcasting licence.
If there is a ‘trigger event’, additional local content obligations apply to regional broadcasters, including higher minimum points quotas for material of local significance and reporting requirements.
To date, there has been no ‘trigger event’ in any of the licence areas.
Do regional broadcasters report to the ACMA?
Regional broadcasters are not required to provide compliance reports to the ACMA, however, they are required to keep records of programs that are used to meet their local content obligations and the ACMA can ask for access to those records.
At the time relevant legislation was amended, it was considered that the retention of audio-visual records would be sufficient, as the ACMA can ask for access to those records at any time, for example, if the ACMA were to receive a complaint and decides to commence an investigation.
What happens if a regional broadcaster does not broadcast the required amount of local content?
Viewers who believe that a regional broadcaster has not complied with its local content obligations can complain directly to the ACMA.
Complaints can be lodged using the ACMA online complaint form, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a letter to us at PO Box Q500, Queen Victoria Building NSW 1230.
The ACMA can decide to investigate a complaint or it can commence an investigation of its own accord.