The ABA has also released its findings into Wild FM and Free FM. After the ABA invited public submissions about applications for the Sydney licences, it received three submissions containing complaints about Sydney Youth Radio Inc (WILD FM) and one containing complaints about Sydney Gay & Lesbian Broadcasters Inc (FREE FM). The complaints related to alleged commercial arrangements between companies controlled by and/or associated with board members of the two applicants and the applicant associations.
In relation to Sydney Youth Radio Inc, one complainant expressed ‘very serious concerns about the allocation of a community licence to a group which has previously, and may continue to have contractual arrangements which are overwhelmingly to the financial benefit of one individual [Mr Anthony Gherghetta, President of Sydney Youth Radio Inc 1997-2000 and station manager 1997 to present].’ The submission included a financial statement for Sydney Youth Radio Inc and concluded with a list of matters relating to the contractual arrangements between Sydney Youth Radio Inc and Mr Gherghetta’s company, Did It! Pty Ltd that, in the complainant’s view, warranted further investigation.
A second submission relating to Sydney Youth Radio Inc asserted that ‘WILD FM does not represent their community but rather is a dance music station with very little other content which acts as a vehicle to promote and sell their very successful CDs. Their management structure states that their General manager is also the President of the Management Committee and that their Financial Controller is also their treasurer. This is unacceptable in any organisation.’ The submission then sets out details of alleged financial arrangements between Sydney Youth Radio Inc and Did It! Pty Ltd in relation to WILD CDs.
The third submission relating to Sydney Youth Radio Inc expressed the view that Sydney Youth Radio Inc should not be allocated a community broadcasting licence because of financial arrangements that operate to the benefit of individuals associated with Sydney Youth Radio Inc.
In relation to the complaint about Sydney Gay and Lesbian Broadcasters Inc, the complainant questioned the relationships between commercial organisations and activities, and members of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Broadcasters Inc board.
The key findings of the investigation were that:
* Sydney Youth Radio Inc is a suitable applicant for a community broadcasting services licence within the meaning of subsection 83(1) of the Act;
* Sydney Gay and Lesbian Broadcasters Inc is a suitable applicant for a community broadcasting services licence within the meaning of subsection 83(1) of the Act;
* Sydney Youth Radio Inc is operated as part of a profit making enterprise.
A final report on the investigation was prepared and a copy was provided to Sydney Youth Radio Inc and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Broadcasters Inc. At the same time, the ABA indicated to Sydney Youth Radio Inc that it intended to take into account any relevant findings from the investigation when deciding how and to whom to allocate the three Sydney community radio licences. Submissions were sought from Sydney Youth Radio Inc on this issue. Sydney Youth Radio Inc responded, without making further submissions on the matter, by noting the ABA’s intention to take the findings into account in the allocation of the Sydney community licences.