ACMA proposes two year cap on trigger event rules

ACMA has given notice that they will be changing the licensing conditions imposed on regional commercial radio broadcasting licenses. The changes affect requirements licensees have to maintain their existing level of local presence, and their obligation to broadcast material of local significance.

These changes will not affect remote area service radio licenses, regional racing service radio licenses, and a license allocated under subsection 40(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth).

Under s 7 of Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio – Local Presence) Licence Condition 2012 (Cth),a licensee must maintain at least the existing level of local presence in the licence area in relation to the licence throughout the relevant period.’


‘The relevant period’ means ‘the period beginning on the date a trigger event for the licence occurs and ending 24 months later’. Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) a ‘trigger event’ occurs when a transfer of license occurs, when there is a formation of new registrable media group, or when there is a change of controller of registrable media group.


The ‘existing level of local presence’ relates to both staffing levels and studio and other production facilities.


For staffing levels, the existing level of local presence is maintained if, at the conclusion of each relevant period, there has been no material reduction in the average monthly staffing levels in the license area.


For studios and other production facilities, the existing level of local presence is maintained if at the conclusion of each relevant period there has been no material reduction in the number of average monthly broadcast hours produced during that relevant period.


A person holding a relevant regional commercial radio must keep extensive records in order for ACMA to check their compliance with these requirements, which they can do at any time.


Further, a licensee must, within 3 months after the end of a relevant period, give the ACMA a report about the licensee’s compliance with s 7 during that relevant period.


In regards to the second condition change, s 8 of the Broadcasting Services (Regional Commercial Radio — Material of Local Significance) License Condition 2012 (Cth) requires that ‘during daytime hours on a relevant business day, a licensee must broadcast the applicable number of hours of material of local significance’. 


Content is material of local significance if it is hosted in, produced in, or relates to the licence area of the regional commercial radio broadcasting licence.


If the material of local significance is advertising or sponsorship matter and the licensee is somehow paid for showcasing it, then the advertising or sponsorship matter must not comprise more than 25% of the applicable number of hours on a business day.


Under the proposals a licensee will be required to compile a local content statement in relation to the material of local significance that it has broadcast in its licence area during daytime hours on that relevant business day, which must detail the broadcaster’s programs that are of local significance. Broadcasters have a few options here, and should consult s 11 of the proposal.


If ACMA asks the licensee for access to a local content statement kept under this section, the licensee must comply with the request as soon as practicable.


The licensee must keep accessible records documenting their material of local significance, and within 3 months after the end of a financial year must give ACMA a report in writing about their compliance with local content requirement during the financial year.


A ‘regional licensing area’ under the proposals are licence areas in which is not situated the General Post Office of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, or the licence area known as Western Suburbs Sydney RA1.