There are more than 450 licensed community radio stations in Australia. They operate under community radio licences, issued under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and transmitter licences issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1992.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) allocates long-term community radio licences for up to 5 years at a time, according to Part 6 and Schedule 2 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. These licensees are selected through an application process and not via auction and frequencies are planned as part of the licence area planning process. The licences can be renewed by ACMA providing that the licensee has complied with its obligations and continues to serve the community interest that it was licensed for.
Aspiring community broadcasters can apply to the ACMA for a temporary community broadcasting licence for up to one year in accordance with Part 6A of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. A new licence can be sought if the licensee has met the conditions required. These licences are not planned under the ACMA's licence area planning process in Part 3 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and they are less regulated than the long term licences. For example, the licensee may need to share the broadcast frequency if more than one group has been allocated a temporary licence in the same area.
On 13 December 2022, amendments to the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Community Radio) Act 2022 commenced to provide greater certainty to broadcasters and support listener access to high quality and diverse community radio services. Six measures were amended to simplify aspects of the long term and temporary community licensing arrangements. The amendments aimed to:
- provide greater regulatory clarity
- provide certainty and flexibility for community radio broadcasters
- support better access to high quality and diverse programs for listeners
- assist ACMA streamline licensing processes.
Find out more
- Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
- Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF)
- Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA)
- Second reading speech—Broadcasting Services Amendment (Community Radio) Bill 2022
Codes of Practice
Codes of Practice for the community radio broadcasting sector were developed by the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia. The CBAA is currently undertaking a review of the Codes of Practice and when agreed and finalised, the new Codes will be registered with the ACMA and apply to community broadcasting licensees.
The Community Radio Broadcasting Codes of Practice cover the responsibilities of broadcasting to the community, principles of diversity and independence, general programming guidelines and guidelines for news and current affairs, Australian music content, sponsorship, volunteers, conflict resolution, handling complaints and review of codes.
For more information about the review of the community broadcasting sector, visit the Community Broadcasting Sector Sustainability Review page.