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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.

Local news and weather bulletins

You must provide the greater of either:

  • one eligible local news bulletin per business day
  • the average business-day number of eligible local news bulletins broadcast under the license during the benchmark year.

To be eligible, local news bulletins must:

  • have a total minimum duration of 62.5 minutes each week
  • be broadcast between 5 am and 8 pm
  • be about local stories and material important to the local community
  • consist of new material

You must provide at least one eligible local weather bulletin per business day.


Emergency warnings

After a trigger event, you must continue to broadcast emergency service warnings when asked by an emergency service agency (police, fire and emergency services).

You must notify the ACMA within 90 days of the trigger event how you will comply with the minimum weekly service standard for emergency warnings. You can use the Licensee notification to the ACMA under section 61CG form.

When you are exempt from the minimum service standard

You do not have to meet the local content standard for the whole year (52 weeks). You will be exempt for 5 weeks from the second Sunday in December, unless either:

  • the licence is subject to an alternative exemption period (through the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio – Specification of Periods for Subsections 43C(1A) and 61CD(2)) Instrument 2012)
  • you nominate to be exempt for a different period (including splitting the 5-week period into 2 periods totalling 5 weeks). You can do this by giving the ACMA written notice 21 or more days before the exemption period is due to start. You can use the Licensee notification to the ACMA under section 8AE form.
Next up: Reports to submit after a trigger event
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