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Understanding media control

Ownership and directorship limitations in the BSA focus on whether a person is 'in a position to exercise control' of a licence.

The meaning of 'control'

'Control' covers various formal and informal arrangements. This can include trusts, agreements and practices under which a person is in a position to exercise control over a broadcasting service licence, a newspaper or a company.

Schedule 1 of the BSA has a section titled Control and Ownership of Company Interests, which:

  • explains factors that may be relevant when considering control
  • sets out rules for deciding who is in a position to exercise control of a licence, newspaper or company
  • describes a method for tracing company interests

Examples of control

If a person has company interests exceeding 15%, the person is considered to be in a position to exercise control of the company.

Holding company interests is not the only way to be in a position to exercise control. Other examples are if a person is the licensee, or if either alone or together with an associate, the person can:

  • control the licensee
  • control the selection or provision of a significant proportion of the programs broadcast by the licensee
  • control a significant proportion of the operations of the company
  • veto any action taken by the board of directors
  • appoint, secure or veto the appointment of at least half of the board of directors
  • exercise direction or restraint over any major issue affecting the management or affairs of the licensee or company

Similar criteria apply to newspapers, their publishers and persons exercising control of them. More than one person may be in a position to exercise control of a licence, a company or a newspaper.

Request an opinion on control.

Definition of ‘associate’

An associate is someone who acts in concert in relation to a licence, company or newspaper.

People are not considered associates if we are satisfied they do not act in dealings with the company and cannot exert influence.

Further information

Contact the ACMA's Diversity, Localism and Accessibility section.


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