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Australia's regulator for broadcasting, the Internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications

ACMA media release 80/2008 – 27 June

27 June 2008

ACMA issues temporary community broadcasting licence for Young

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has allocated temporary community broadcasting licences in Young NSW, to Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc and Young District Arts Council Inc. The services will be provided on the 92.3 MHz frequency.

As the two groups were unable to negotiate a timeshare arrangement, ACMA has decided that each group will have equal access to broadcasting time on the 92.3 MHz frequency. Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc will broadcast continuously from 1 July 2008 until 3 January 2009, followed by Young District Arts Council Inc. broadcasting continuously from 4 January 2009 until 30 June 2009. Both groups will represent the general community of Young.

‘ACMA’s strong preference is for community broadcasting groups to negotiate their own frequency timesharing arrangements,’ said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. ‘Unfortunately, Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting and Young District Arts Council were unable to do so, requiring ACMA to determine the timeshare arrangement in this case.’

To assist community broadcasting groups, ACMA has developed guidelines for sharing broadcasting time. While priority is generally given to experienced broadcasters, there is an exception where a temporary community broadcaster has unsuccessfully applied for a long-term community licence.

Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc was unsuccessful in its application for a long-term community broadcasting licence for Young in 2007.

‘There is a strong incentive for Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting to use the next six months as a temporary community broadcaster to demonstrate to ACMA that it merits consideration for a long-term licence should one be made available in the future,’ Mr Chapman said. ‘However, ACMA has no immediate plans to look again at allocating a long-term community broadcasting licence for Young.’

Young District Arts Council is a new aspirant community broadcaster which will now have the opportunity to develop the range of operational, programming and other skills necessary to successfully operate a community broadcasting service and to build community support for their service.

Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager 02 9334 7980.


Backgrounder

Community broadcasting services

Community broadcasting services are relevantly defined as being broadcasting services that:

  • are provided for community purposes; and
  • are not operated for profit or as part of a profit-making enterprise; and
  • provide programs that are able to be received by commonly available equipment and are made available free to the general public.

Community radio broadcasting services are intended to serve the needs and interests of particular communities. Licensees are required to encourage members of the community they have been licensed to serve to participate in the operation and the programming of the service.

What is a temporary community broadcasting licence?

A temporary community broadcasting licence (TCBL) authorises aspirant community radio broadcasters to provide temporary broadcasting services. TCBLs may be allocated for a period of up to 12 months. A TCBL cannot be renewed. However a licensee providing a service under a TCBL may apply for a new TCBL before its existing TCBL expires.

TCBLs help to foster the development of community broadcasting by giving groups interested in applying for a long-term community radio licence the opportunity to develop the range of operational, programming and other skills necessary to successfully operate a community broadcasting service.

TCBLs help groups build community support for their service by allowing them to identify the needs of the community they propose to serve, and providing programming that caters to those needs, and encouraging the participation of the community in the service.

Who may apply for a TCBL?

An applicant for a TCBL must be a company that:

  • is formed in Australia or an external Territory; and
  • represents a community interest.

A 'company' includes an incorporated association.

An applicant for a TCBL must be a not-for-profit, locally based, representative organisation. It should have clearly defined purposes and transparent, non-discriminatory membership rules.

Allocation of TCBLs

In deciding whether to allocate a TCBL, ACMA is not to have regard to matters it considers when allocating a long-term community broadcasting licence. These include:

  • the extent that the proposed service would meet the needs of the community in an area;
  • the nature and diversity of the interests of that community;
  • the nature and diversity of other broadcasting services in that area; and
  • the capacity of the applicant to provide the service.

ACMA may have regard to:

  • the undesirability of one person being in a position to exercise control of more than one community broadcasting licence that is a broadcasting services bands licence in the same licence area; and
  • the undesirability of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory or a political party being in a position to exercise control of a TCBL.

ACMA may decide not to allocate a TCBL if the applicant previously held a TCBL but did not provide a broadcasting service under that TCBL.

ACMA must not allocate a TCBL if it has decided that the applicant is an ‘unsuitable’ applicant in the terms set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA).

Licence periods

ACMA will allocate TCBLs for periods of up to 12 months.

ACMA may receive valid applications for TCBLs to broadcast programs on spectrum that is already occupied by one or more temporary broadcasters. In this situation, ACMA will align the licence periods for all services by determining the licence period for new temporary broadcasting services to start on the day after the end of the licence period for existing broadcasting services using the same spectrum.

Timing conditions

Timing conditions specify the times in which the licence allows a temporary community broadcasting service to be provided.

In determining the timing conditions and the licence period of a TCBL, ACMA is to have regard to:

  • any other applications for TCBLs in the licence area of the proposed licence; and
  • any other TCBLs in the licence area of the proposed licence; and
  • such other matters as ACMA thinks fit.

Sharing spectrum

When there is only one applicant for a TCBL, ACMA will determine timing conditions to allow full-time broadcasting (that is, 24 hours, seven days a week).

When more than one TCBL is allocated to broadcast on the same spectrum in an area, timing conditions will determine when each licensee may broadcast its service. When licensees must share spectrum, ACMA will set timing conditions in accordance with times agreed to by the applicants. If the applicants cannot agree on how time is to be shared, ACMA will make the decision. ACMA has prepared guidelines for the sharing of spectrum in these circumstances. The guidelines are available on ACMA’s website.

Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. and Young District Arts Council Inc.

Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. and Young District Arts Council Inc. were requested to negotiate a frequency timeshare arrangement by 30 May 2008. However, they were unable to do so. ACMA therefore sought comments on a proposed timeshare arrangement which provided equal broadcast time to both groups in six-month blocks. The proposal granted Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. the first broadcasting period to allow it sufficient time to advise the listening audience and sponsors of the changed broadcast service. This would also allow Young District Arts Council Inc. sufficient time to undertake the operational and technical preparations necessary to commence a broadcasting service.

ACMA's guidelines for sharing of broadcasting time by temporary community broadcasters generally give priority to experienced broadcasters. However, the guidelines specify that ACMA may depart from the guidelines in certain circumstances, which include when ACMA has decided not to allocate a long-term licence to a TCBL applicant. As Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. was unsuccessful in its application for a long-term community broadcasting licence in Young in 2007 (see below), ACMA decided to depart from the timesharing guidelines in this instance.

ACMA was advised that a mediation session was being held between the two groups on the day before submissions on the timeshare proposal were due on 24 June 2008. ACMA contacted the groups and encouraged them to use the mediation session to negotiate their own timeshare arrangement. ACMA was advised, however, that the groups were still unable to reach a timeshare arrangement.

Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc.

On 25 July 2007, ACMA decided to take no further action to allocate the long-term licence in Young as the ACMA delegate was not satisfied on the information provided that Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. met the allocation criteria set out at section 84(2) of the BSA, namely that:

  • the proposed service would meet the existing and perceived future needs of the community within the licence area (section 84(2)(a)); or
  • Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. has the management capacity to provide the proposed service (section 84(2)(d)).

ACMA’s media release is available here.

This was consistent with findings from ACMA’s investigation into the service earlier in 2007. On 29 May 2007, ACMA found that Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. breached two of its licence conditions. The ACMA delegate determined that Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc.:

  • breached the licence condition requiring it to encourage community participation (clause 9(2)(c) of Schedule 2 to BSA); and
  • breached the licence condition requiring it not to broadcast sponsorship announcements that run in total for more than 5 minutes in each hour during certain periods on 14 January 2007 (clause 9(3)(b) of Schedule 2 to BSA)

ACMA investigation report is available here.

As a result of the investigation findings, ACMA decided in September 2007 to issue a remedial direction to Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc. ACMA considered it necessary to take enforcement action as Lambing Flat Community Broadcasting Inc.’s response to the investigation breach findings did not satisfy ACMA that it would comply with the relevant licence conditions in the future. This was the first time that ACMA has used this enforcement power to ensure compliance by a TCBL.

ACMA’s media release is available here.

Lambing Flat has failed to meet the desired level of compliance in reports required from the remedial direction issued in September 2007. The compliance report due in June 2008 has been received and is being assessed. The next report is due in September 2008.

Young District Arts Council Inc.

Young District Arts Council Inc. is a new aspirant community broadcaster that has not operated a community broadcasting service previously.

 

Last update: 24 July 2008 12:19