ACMA blames administrative error for Rolleston Mine relay

The regulator has responded to yesterday’s opinion article by Brad Smart, citing an administrative error for the broadcast of an out of area Triple M signal at Rolleston Mine.

ACMA has told radioinfo that the application from Rolleston was for “Triple-M Rockhampton.”

“This is the name ordinarily used on-air and in marketing material by the service which call sign is 4RGK. The ACMA approved a retransmission of the 4RGK service.

“Due to an administrative oversight, the licence incorrectly showed 4MMM call sign. This was recently brought to our attention and the ACMA has updated its Register of Radiocommunications Licences (RRL) and is in the process of producing a correct PDF of the licence.”

The original document is shown below.


According to the ACMA, in November 2019 the operators of the Rolleston mine advised the ACMA they sought to retransmit the programs of two additional stations into its mining site. These were the Emerald station 4HIT and the Rockhampton station 4RGK and would be in addition to existing retransmissions of 4JJJ and 4HI.

“As Rolleston Mine is located in Emerald RA1 licence area, retransmissions of the 4HI and 4HIT services do not require the ACMA’s permission (neither does the retransmission of the national service 4JJJ). The licensees have provided agreement for retransmission of their respective services.

“Rolleston indicated it was seeking to provide the Rockhampton service in addition to the Emerald services at the request of its drive-in drive-out workers who mostly come from Rockhampton. The 4RGK service is planned in the Rockhampton RA1 licence area and the retransmission of this service at Rolleston Mine required a permission in writing from the ACMA, a so-called out-of-area retransmission. The licensee of 4RGK provided written consent for Rolleston to retransmit its service.

“Given the geographic isolation of the mine and the size and nature of the audience, the ACMA considered that the retransmission of the 4RGK service would meet the requirements of subparagraph 212(1)(b)(ii) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and granted the licence for the 4RGK retransmission. Paragraph 212A(1)(c) of the BSA lists mining companies and mines at an isolated location as one of the self-help providers which can operate a retransmission service.”


Commenting on ACMA’s explanation, Brad Smart has told radioinfo:

ACMA’s excuse is straight out of ‘Yes, Minister,’ but without the comic timing. Trying to pass off the bungling as ‘an administrative error’ is, to me, an exercise in bureaucratic butt-covering. I don’t think people in this industry are that naïve.

I can’t swallow that someone processing an application to relay 4RGK, just had a brain snap, and on the spur of the moment, accidentally typed in 4MMM instead.

Why would a bureaucrat even know that those two callsigns were necessarily related, unless they had the 4MMM information in front of them.

However, it doesn’t matter if it’s Triple M Brisbane or Triple M Rockhampton being relayed into the Central Highlands licence area, it’s still a commercial radio station licensed to somewhere outside that service area, being given a free pass to play in someone else’s patch.

A number of people on newsgroups have been saying ‘Oh, the Triple M program is so much better than the local offering’ or ‘How can you expect to offer a wide enough program selection with only two commercial stations in the area.

But that is not the point.

Within all licence areas, there’ll be certain people who love classical music, for instance. Some may even want radio dramas and others would kill for some other niche format that just isn’t available locally. Sydney, for example, doesn’t have a major commercial country music station, but no one would seriously suggest that Resonate’s Hot Country from Emerald should be given an out-of-area self-help licence to fill that need. The regulators would rightly say ‘Suck it up, Princess!

Whether it’s intentional or not, the ACMA’s decision appears to be setting a policy precendent that is against current licencing rules.



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