Community radio to cover more local issues | radioinfo

Community radio to cover more local issues

Friday 31 August, 2018

Changes to the Broadcasting Services Act will mean community radio stations cover material of local significance.

 
These measures are part of a Bill which amends the Broadcasting Services Act - Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Foreign Media Ownership, Community Radio and Other Measures) Bill 2017.
 
Amendments include a new criterion for the assessment of community radio licence applications and renewals as outlined below:
 
Broadcasting Services Act s84 Allocation of community broadcasting licences:
 
(2)  In deciding whether to allocate a community broadcasting licence that is a broadcasting services bands licence to an applicant or to one of a group of applicants, the ACMA is to have regard to:
(b)  the nature and diversity of the interests of that community;
 
Changed to add the following paragraph
 
(ba) in the case of a community radio broadcasting licence—the extent to which the proposed service or services would provide material of local significance;
 
And defining “local significance” as if 
 (a)  it is hosted in the licence area of the proposed licence; or
(b)  it is produced in the licence area of the proposed licence; or
(c)  it relates to the licence area of the proposed licence.
 
As part of its government engagement strategy, the CBAA raised concerns about the definition of 'local significance' and its support for the Bill's intent with a number of Senators who are active supporters of community radio to ensure that these concerns are on record. See our previous report for background.
 
Speaking on the Bill, ALP Senator Deborah O’Neill referred to the general merits of the Bill and provided support for the CBAA’s concerns over the “wording of the bill as it currently stands”, encouraging “the government to address the CBAA's concerns to ensure clarity and certainty for the sector”.
 
Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett also made a number of comments in the Senate in support of CBAA’s position.
 
Speaking in the broad about the strength of the community broadcasting industry, Senator Bartlett strongly commended the work of the community broadcasting sector and supported the Bill’s intended encouragement of sector to “provide greater coverage of local issues”.
 
As an active participant in the community radio industry, Senator Bartlett voiced support for developing capability for “local participation and greater coverage of local issues” in the community broadcasting sector. 
 
As the Bill has now passed both houses, the CBAA is consulting with the ACMA regarding implementation of this change in the licensing process and will provide further updates to the sector on this soon.

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