18 March 2008
ACMA finds Perth community radio service breached licence conditions by broadcasting advertisements
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that the licensee of Perth community radio service 6NR, Curtin University of Technology, breached the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 by broadcasting advertisements, as well as by broadcasting sponsorship announcements that ran in excess of 5 minutes per hour.
ACMA found the licensee failed to include appropriate acknowledgements of financial support (‘tags’) in relation to live cross-over chats with financial supporters. Under the BSA, sponsorship announcements on community radio which do not carry tags are considered advertisements. Where they are appropriately tagged, the BSA allocates a time limit of 5 minutes per hour for the broadcast of sponsorship announcements. On two occasions, ACMA found that the broadcast of announcements by the licensee ran in excess of this time limit.
In response to the breach findings, the licensee has ceased its practice of broadcasting sponsors live to air and now pre-records all interviews with sponsors. This has allowed the licensee to allocate an accurate time-limit to sponsorship announcements so that it coincides with Station logs, and also to ensure that the appropriate ‘tag’ is placed at the end of each sponsorship announcement.
ACMA considers the actions taken by the licensee as commensurate in the circumstances.
A copy of investigation report 1856 is available on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.
ACMA conducts various types of investigations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act). Investigations under Part 11 of the Act are conducted in response to complaints received by ACMA relating to a possible breach by:
- a licensed broadcaster of the Act, the regulations, a licence condition, a class licence or a code of practice; or
- the ABC or SBS of a code of practice.
If a person wishes to complain about something of concern they have seen or heard on a program broadcast by a radio or TV station, and the matter is covered by a code of practice, the person must, by law, first make a written complaint to the station.
However, if a complaint relates to a matter covered by a licence condition, the person can complain directly to ACMA and need not complain to the station first.
There is a different code of practice for each broadcasting sector, and each code of practice contains a section that explains the complaints process that applies to that sector.
As some codes impose time limits for complaints, it is advisable that persons who wish to make a complaint write to the radio or TV station as soon as possible. For instance, the code of practice that applies to commercial television broadcasters enables them to decide to not respond in writing to complaints that are made more than 30 days after the date of broadcast.
When making a complaint to ACMA, persons must provide a copy of their complaint to the station, a copy of the station’s reply if this has been received, and any other relevant correspondence with the station. ACMA takes all complaints seriously (except for those that are frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith) and acknowledges in writing all complaints.
For valid complaints, ACMA considers the information provided and offers the relevant station an opportunity to give its side of the story. When all relevant information is available, ACMA assesses the complaint against the relevant licence condition or code of practice.
When an investigation is completed, ACMA is required to notify a complainant of the results of an investigation under Part 11 of the Act. The form this notification is to take is not specified in the Act – sometimes it is in the form of a letter, but more usually it takes the form of a more formal investigation report, which is provided to both the complainant and the licensee concerned.
Generally, personal or private information provided in a complaint, including name and address details, are not disclosed to the licensee concerned if it is a licence condition matter. However, as code complaints are first made to a licensee, code complaints are usually made available to the licensee concerned. ACMA’s usual practice is to not provide personal or private information in an investigation report.
Under the Act, ACMA has discretion whether or not to publish the report of an investigation conducted under Part 11 of the Act. ACMA is not required to publish an investigation report if publication would disclose matter of a confidential character or likely to prejudice the fair trial of a person. If ACMA intends to publish an investigation report that may adversely affect the interests of a person, ACMA must give the person an opportunity to make representations in relation to the matter.