Community Radio (General Discussion)

ACMA renews 148 community broadcasting licences

The future of community broadcasting looks bright, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority renewing 148 of 150 community broadcasting licences assessed in the last financial year. 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.

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

‘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.

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.

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.