New Narrowcast Industry Association

A new broadcast industry association has been formed to serve operators and owners of high and low powered open narrowcast services across Australia.

The Australian Narrowcast Radio Association (ANRA) has already been recognised by the ABA and Australian Communications Authority (ACA), seeking the views of narrowcasters on a range of issues.

Radio narrowcasters were previously represented by ASTRA, but that organisation has increasingly become focused on television, with big money and big issues in the subscription tv industry requiring the organisation’s highest attention.

The pending merger of the ABA and ACA, digital radio and the ongoing review of spectrum planning and pricing are all of major significance to radio narrowcasters and will be a major priority for the new organistion.

Based in Sydney, ANRA’s President is Max Carter of 2KY and Executive Committee members include John McCormack (representing Unitab) and Angy Nacson, Chief Executive of Raw FM. The secretariat is headed by veteran broadcaster, Des Foster, who was CEO of FARB (now CRA) for 18 years.

ANRA has already identified a broad range of issues, which will be crucial to narrowcasters in the short and longer term. Paramount among these is the question of tenure – the certainty, or lack of it, with which narrowcasters can expect to retain their licences.

ANRA says the Government’s broadcasting policy, announced shortly before the election, includes enabling high powered open narrowcasters to ‘roll over’ their licences for a fee and maintaining the anti-hoarding regime for low powered open narrowcast services. The details of these proposals will require close consultation with the government.

Other issues include bandwidth and power requirements for narrowband area services, a review of codes of practice for narrowcasters under the Broadcasting Services Act, and pressure from a section of the commercial radio industry to place heavier restraints on what narrowcasters may transmit.

According to Des Foster: “Narrowcasting today represents a significant proportion of the Australian broadcasting mix, with more than 250 high powered and 1700 low powered services. In many respects, they are unique.

“Their future depends on being able to speak with a single, strong voice, and to be heard among the range of views advanced by national, commercial and community broadcasters and other interested parties.”

ANRA policy is to ensure all members are kept informed of developments which can affect them and give them an opportunity to express opinions. As far as possible, the association will rely on audio conferencing for members to take part, where actual attendance would be impractical.

Narrowcasters interested in ANRA membership are invited to contact Des Foster on (02) 9975 6746 or by e-mail: [email protected]