Broadcast content is regulated in a variety of ways.
Radio and TV stations have the primary responsibility for ensuring that the material they broadcast meets community standards. Most aspects of program content are governed by codes of practice developed by industry groups representing the various broadcasting sectors. The ACMA registers codes once it is satisfied that broadcasters have undertaken public consultation and the codes contain appropriate community safeguards.
Some aspects of broadcasting are subject to licence conditions set out in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. For example, commercial, community and other radio and television stations are subject to a licence condition prohibiting them from broadcasting tobacco advertisements.
Australian content and children’s programs on commercial television are regulated by compulsory program standards determined by the ACMA following consultation with the industry and the public.
The ACMA has also determined further program standards and licence conditions dealing with particular issues. For example, commercial radio broadcasters are subject to standards requiring the disclosure of commercial agreements with the potential to affect the content of current affairs programs.
The ACMA monitors matters relating to some standards and licence conditions and can investigate complaints about them from the public. The ACMA also acts as an independent adjudicator where complaints about matters relating to codes of practice, including the ABC and SBS codes of practice, are not resolved between the complainant and the broadcaster concerned. If the ACMA finds a breach of a code of practice, licence condition or standard, it may take enforcement action to ensure future compliance.