From 1 September 2018, a foreign person (as defined in the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975) with company interests of 2.5 per cent or more (a foreign stakeholder) in an Australian media company is required to notify the ACMA of that interest. This is to allow increased scrutiny of foreign investment in Australian media companies and increased transparency as to the levels and sources of foreign investment in such companies.
The ACMA will keep a publicly available Register of Foreign Owners of Media Assets, which will include information about foreign stakeholders and the interests they have in media assets, such as commercial television and radio broadcasting licences and companies that publish newspapers associated with commercial broadcasting licence areas.
The requirement to notify the ACMA of interests of this kind was introduced as part of a suite of amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, following the passing of the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Foreign Media Ownership, Community Radio and Other Measures) Act 2018 on 22 August 2018.
The new notification requirements are outlined below.
Initial disclosure period
If a person is a foreign stakeholder when the new provisions come into force, they will have six months in which to notify the ACMA of their company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company. Initial notifications are required to be made by 28 February 2019.
Change of foreign stakeholder status
Foreign stakeholders who acquire, or cease to hold, company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company are required to notify the ACMA in writing within 30 days of this occurring.
End of financial year reporting
All foreign stakeholders are obliged to notify the ACMA within 30 days after the end of each financial year if they hold company interests of 2.5 per cent or more in an Australian media company, as at 30 June.
Notification requirements for executors, administrators and liquidators
The new provisions also require persons acting on behalf of foreign stakeholders, such as executors and administrators of estates and liquidators of corporations, to notify the ACMA if the entity they represent is subject to the notification requirements.
How to notify the ACMA of foreign stakeholder status
To notify the ACMA of foreign stakeholder status, please use the following form:
Lodgement—notification of foreign ownership of media assets
Identifying Australian media companies
The ACMA website has information on Australian media companies, including owners of commercial television and radio broadcasting licences and publishers of associated newspapers.
Download the fact sheet: Notification of interests in Australian media companies (PDF, 344 KB)
If you require further information you can contact the ACMA at firstname.lastname@example.org.