Interference to radio communications

If an emergency services radio message cannot be heard because of interference from another signal, it can be a serious problem. Interference can also cause problems with your television, radio or mobile phone reception.

The Australian Government has strict rules in place to try to avoid interference that endangers the safety of life or property.

What is interference?

You might notice interference on your television, phone or radio as unwanted noise, bursts of static, an interruption to the signal, or a total loss of signal.

Interference happens when the signal from one device affects reception on another. It includes radio frequency signals transmitting on or near the frequency of a wireless receiver, or interference from electrical devices including, for example, machinery, appliances, lighting, dimmers and computers. These can affect the operation of mobile phones, televisions and radios.


The Radiocommunications Act 1992 gives the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) the power to ban any device that interferes substantially with the emergency services radiocommunications or affects the health or safety of people. You could be fined or even sent to prison if you use a transmitter that interferes with any of these services without permission from ACMA.

Help from the ACMA

The ACMA can help resolve interference problems, including TV and radio reception problems. The ACMA provides advice and it can also investigate problems.

The ACMA can make suggestions about ways to reduce the interference if it’s accidental, even if the source of interference complies with all relevant standards and licence conditions. In these cases, the ACMA might help you identify the source of the interference and ways to stop or reduce it. The ACMA might also encourage operators whose devices cause interference to resolve the problem by working with people affected by the interference.

Warning: Removing the protective covers of electronic devices to investigate interference issues is dangerous and could electrocute you if you don’t do it properly. It can also affect the warranties of devices. Only qualified technicians should conduct such investigations.

ACMA can also direct the licensee of a transmitter to place advertisements to ask people to contact the licensee if they believe that operation of the transmitter is causing interference.