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Trigger events for regional commercial radio

Some regional commercial radio broadcasters may be affected by a trigger event. When a trigger event happens, you must follow different rules and also report to us.

Definition of a trigger event

A trigger event is a change that affects the control of legal status of a regional commercial radio broadcaster. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) defines a trigger event as:

  • a change when the person in a position to control the licence starts or stops in the position
  • a new registrable media group forms from 2 or more media operations
  • a change in the controller of a registrable media group changes

The Act and the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio) Regulation 2013 also set out what is not a trigger event. For example:

  • The licence holder transfers shares to a close relative for no consideration.
  • The control of a licence changes for reasons beyond the control of the licence holder.
  • After a restructure, control of the licence or registrable media group continues with few changes.

The impact of a trigger event

Trigger events affect:

  • what you must do to maintain a local presence
  • the minimum service standards you must provide for local news and information
  • what you must report to us.

Rule to maintain a local presence

After the start of a trigger event, you must keep the same level of staffing and facilities for 24 months. This is the ‘local presence requirement’. It is a rule in the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio—Local Presence) Licence Condition 2014.

Rule to meet minimum service standards

If a trigger event affects your licence, you need to meet the minimum service standards.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Section 61CE) sets this rule. It covers broadcasts of:

  • local news bulletins
  • local weather bulletins
  • community information announcements

Local news bulletins

When a trigger event happens, each week you must broadcast the larger of 2 options:

  • at least 5 eligible local news bulletins
  • the average number of eligible bulletins you broadcast each week in the benchmark year

To be ‘eligible’, bulletins must:

  • be broadcast on at least 5 days per week
  • add up to at least 12.5 minutes on each of the 5 days
  • be broadcast between 5am and 8pm
  • cover topics that are important to the local community
  • not consist entirely of material that has been broadcast in the licence area

Local weather bulletins

You must broadcast local weather between 5am and 8pm on at least 5 days.

Community service announcements

You must broadcast at least one community service announcement that you do not receive any cash or in-kind payment for.

Emergency warnings

You must broadcast an emergency service warning when someone from the police force, fire service or emergency services body asks you to.

When you are exempt from the minimum service standard

You do not have to meet the minimum service standards for the whole year. For a period of 5 weeks that we set or agree with you, you are exempt. You have 2 options:

  • apply to be exempt at a different time
  • use the default period set in the BSA

If you do not apply for a different time, you are automatically exempt for 5 weeks from the second Sunday in December for service standards.

Apply to be exempt for a different period of 5 weeks by completing the Holiday Period Request Form (doc).

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