Since 2001, the ACMA (and its predecessor, the Australian Broadcasting Authority) has maintained a series of licence conditions that required minimum levels of local content to be provided by licensees holding regional aggregated commercial television broadcasting licences.
The most recent licence condition was the Broadcasting Services (Additional Television Licence Condition) Notice 2014. The licence condition required regional aggregated commercial television broadcasting licences to provide 720 points of local content in a six week timing period. The licence condition also defined local areas for each regional aggregated licence.
On 16 October 2017, Parliament enacted the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Broadcasting Reform) Act 2017. The Broadcasting Reform Act introduced a new regulatory framework for local content.
On 17 April 2018, the Broadcasting Services Local Programming Determination 2018 commenced. The local programming determination defines the local area for each regional commercial television broadcasting licence that is subject to local content requirements under the Act.
Local content requirements
Existing local content requirements require regional commercial television licensees in aggregated licence areas to broadcast material of local significance, within each specified local area, to meet minimum quotas comprising:
From 17 April 2018, when a trigger event occurs for a licence, the new local content obligations for commercial television licensees will:
- increase from 720 to 900 points of material of local significance over a six-week period for licensees in regional ‘aggregated’ licence areas.
- require licensees in regional ‘non-aggregated’ commercial television broadcasting licence areas (not currently covered by local content requirements) to provide 600 points of material of local significance over a six-week period.
What are local areas and licence areas?
Local content is measured using a points system in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992; points accrue for each minute of material which directly relates to either the local area or licence area of the relevant broadcaster, excluding paid advertising.
A licence area is a broad geographical area over which the licensee is authorised to broadcast its service. For the purposes of local content licence conditions, a local area may be either a smaller area within the licence area, or the licence area itself. For example, in the licence area of Regional Queensland TV1 there are seven local areas, such as Far North Queensland or Sunshine Coast. Local areas normally reflect local communities or markets within the licence area. Local area boundaries are described in terms of Census data according to Census Collection Districts and Local Government Areas.