Two community stations not renewed in ACMA re-licencing process

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has renewed 148 of 150 community broadcasting licences assessed in the last financial year.

Two of 150 renewal applications received in the last financial year were declined by the ACMA:

  • 2VTR in the Windsor area of New South Wales; and
  • 4MIG in Mount Isa, Queensland

The two stations have been contacted for comment. The Mt Isa station’s contact number appears to be disconnected and the station website is no longer operating.

Community broadcasting licences must be renewed every five years and the number assessed in the last year represents more than 40 per cent of the total 360 long-term licences in Australia.

‘Uniquely among the wide range of broadcasting services available to Australian audiences, community broadcasting services are provided by the communities which enjoy them,’ said acting ACMA Chairman, Richard Bean.

To ensure that community licensees operate as intended, they must comply with legislation that requires them to involve members of their licence area community in the operations of the service and in the selection and provision of programs. On rare occasions, licences will not be renewed.

‘A decision not to renew a licence is not made lightly,’ Richard Bean said. ‘Where a licensee is struggling to provide the service or to comply with the rules, the ACMA first works to assist the licensee to improve. These are, after all, not-for-profit, volunteer-run services. However, where compliance problems persist over a prolonged period, the ACMA will act to make licences available to others.’

The 2VTR licence, held by Hawkesbury Radio Communications Cooperative Society Ltd, was not renewed following 2VTR’s continued non-compliance with the community participation licence condition.

The compliance issues went unresolved despite informal and formal enforcement action taken by the ACMA over a lengthy period.

It was earlier this year the ACMA also ruled against the station in favour of two complainants who accused the licensee of restrictive practices in granting their applications to become members. 

In their official finding the ACMA states that it has found that “Hawkesbury Radio was preventing the complainants from becoming members of the Co-operative and, by doing so, was not encouraging participation in the operations of the service” which is in breach of licence condition at sub-paragraph 9(2)(c)(i) of Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA). 

The ACMA has previously warned the Windsor based station on the outskirts of Sydney that it was not doing enough to encourage community participation in the operations of the station. 

The ACMA also declined to renew the 4MIG licence, held by Mount Isa Christian Broadcasters Association Inc. 4MIG was unable to muster the resources to meet the needs of the community in its licence area.

CBAA CEO Jon Bisset says the decision not to renew the licences is “disappointing,” but notes that 99% of applicants did have their licences renewed.

These licences expire at the end of their current terms: 11 September 2017 in the case of 4MIG and 3 October 2017 for 2VTR. 

Both licences will then be available for temporary community broadcasting. 

The ACMA will be advertising these very shortly.

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