Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Commercial and Pay TV

Commercial television is regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act), the ACMA:

  • plans the broadcasting spectrum
  • manages broadcasting licensees and collects licence fees
  • monitors compliance with ownership and control rules that apply to commercial tv broadcasters
  • helps develop codes of practice
  • develops and administers program standards
  • manages local content rules for regional commercial tv broadcasters
  • investigates the broadcasting industry.

The Act also limits audience reach, cross-media holdings and how many licences can be issued in relation to commercial television.

Commercial TV

Commercial free-to-air television broadcasters must follow any rules set out in their licence conditions, the ACMA program standards or the relevant code of practice when broadcasting content. These rules can include requirements about what can be broadcast, the classification of programs, advertising limits, and how complaints are handled.

The code of practice for commercial free-to-air television broadcasters was developed by the peak industry body, Free TV Australia, in consultation with the ACMA.

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Foreign ownership rules

Australia's media industry is a sensitive sector under the Government's Foreign Investment Policy. This means that any foreign investor who seeks more than five per cent equity in an Australian media company must apply for prior approval from the Treasurer, who may grant that approval subject to certain conditions.

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Pay TV

Pay TV services are available to subscribers on payment of subscription fees. These services are funded by subscriptions primarily and limited advertising revenue.

Pay TV broadcasters must follow any rules set out in their licence conditions, the ACMA program standards or the relevant code of practice when broadcasting content.

The codes of practice for pay TV in Australia were developed by the peak industry body, the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) in consultation with the ACMA.

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Other services

Other subscription services can include those made available through Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services that are provided with some internet services including channel packages provided by Foxtel and content packages offered by providers such as Fetch TV, and Subscription Video-on-Demand (SVOD) services offered directly over the internet, such as Stan and Netflix.