Now that Gosford’s new commercial station is on air, the ABA has moved to its next allocation in the area and is inviting applications for a new community radio broadcasting licence for the NSW Central Coast.
The Gosford community licence allocation is controversial because a local community group took legal action which blocked the ABA’s previous decision to allocate the licence to Gosford Christian Broadcasters.
Applications must be received by Friday 16 April and applicants should contact the ABA’s Licensing Section on 1 800 226 667 or (02) 9334 7700 for copies of the Gosford application information booklet.
The ABA refers to the court decision in its backgrounder allocating the licence:
Only non-profit community broadcasting organisations that represent a community interest will be eligible for the allocation of a community broadcasting licence.
Community licences can be allocated only if the ABA makes new community broadcasting services available in an area following its planning process and the release of a licence area plan.
The ABA has advertised for applications in a newspaper in the licence area. Applications must be lodged with the ABA by the closing date advertised. In light of the judgment of the Federal Court of Australia handed down on 31 January 2003, the ABA will not be granting any extensions of time within which to apply for a community radio licence. Applications must be made on the approved form, Form ABA 32: Application for the Allocation of a Community Broadcasting Licence (Broadcasting Services Bands).
Applications received will be made available for public comment. Written comments on applications must be lodged with the ABA within 14 days of the date the ABA provides them to the public library.
The ABA will decide if a licence is to be allocated and in the case of competing applicants, to which applicant.
The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) provides that the allocation of broadcasting services bands community broadcasting licences is merit based: that is, the ABA will allocate these licences on the basis of the merits of applicants and their proposed services and, where necessary, on the comparative merits of competing applications.
The ABA is not obliged to allocate a community broadcasting licence to an applicant even though the ABA has advertised for and received applications.
In assessing applications the ABA will have regard to matters set out in the Act. These matters include:
whether the proposed service meets the definition of a community broadcasting service;
whether the applicant is a ‘company’ and represents a community interest;
the needs and interests of the community and the extent to which the applicant’s proposed service would meet those needs and interests;
the nature and diversity of other broadcasting services available within the licence area;
the applicant’s capacity to provide the proposed service;
matters related to the control of the licence; and
whether the allocation is subject to any Ministerial ‘priority direction’.