The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Ballarat Community FM Radio Co-operative Limited, the licensee of Ballarat community broadcasting service 99.9 Voice FM, breached a condition of its licence by broadcasting advertisements.

Community radio stations may broadcast up to five minutes of sponsorship announcements in any hour. Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, a sponsorship announcement on community radio that promotes the sponsor’s business must include an appropriate acknowledgement of financial support (a ‘tag’), otherwise it will be considered an advertisement.

Following a complaint in February 2008, ACMA’s investigation found that Voice FM broadcast an advertisement on 5 February 2008 because promotional material played during the ‘Lifestyle Program’ did not include a ‘tag’.

As ACMA is satisfied that the licensee has put in place adequate measures to ensure there are no further breaches of the sponsorship rules, no action is proposed at this time.

A copy of investigation report #1975 is available on the ACMA website.

Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager, on (02) 9334 7980.


ACMA conducts various types of investigations under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act). Investigations under Part 11 of the Act are conducted in response to complaints received by ACMA relating to a possible breach by:

a licensed broadcaster of the Act, the regulations, a licence condition, a class licence or a code of practice; or
the ABC or SBS of a code of practice.
If a person wishes to complain about something of concern they have seen or heard on a program broadcast by a radio or TV station, and the matter is covered by a code of practice, the person must, by law, first make a written complaint to the station.

However, if a complaint relates to a matter covered by a licence condition, the person can complain directly to ACMA and need not complain to the station first.

There is a different code of practice for each broadcasting sector, and each code of practice contains a section that explains the complaints process that applies to that sector.

As some codes impose time limits for complaints, it is advisable that people who wish to make a complaint write to the radio or TV station as soon as possible. For instance, the code of practice that applies to commercial television broadcasters enables them to decide to not respond in writing to complaints that are made more than 30 days after the date of broadcast.

When making a complaint to ACMA, people must provide a copy of their complaint to the station, a copy of the station’s reply if this has been received, and any other relevant correspondence with the station. ACMA takes all complaints seriously (except for those that are frivolous or vexatious or not made in good faith) and acknowledges all complaints in writing.

For valid complaints, ACMA considers the information provided and offers the relevant station an opportunity to provide its perspectives. When all relevant information is available, ACMA assesses the complaint against the relevant licence condition or code of practice.

When an investigation is completed, ACMA is required to notify a complainant of the results of an investigation under Part 11 of the Act. The form this notification is to take is not specified in the Act – it might be in the form of a letter or, alternatively, it could be in the form of a more formal investigation report which is provided to both the complainant and the licensee concerned.

Generally, personal or private information provided in a complaint, including name and address details, are not disclosed to the licensee concerned if it is a licence condition matter. However, as code complaints are first made to a licensee, code complaints are usually made available to the licensee concerned. ACMA’s usual practice is to not provide personal or private information in an investigation report.

Under the Act, ACMA has a discretion whether or not to publish the report of an investigation conducted under Part 11 of the Act. ACMA's usual practice is to publish such reports. However, ACMA is not required to publish an investigation report if publication would disclose matter of a confidential character or likely to prejudice the fair trial of a person. If ACMA intends to publish an investigation report that may adversely affect the interests of a person, ACMA must give the person an opportunity to make representations in relation to the matter.