Media release: The Australian Communications and Media Authority has become aware of media reports that it has decided not to renew the temporary community broadcasting licence of Cobar Community Radio Inc (CCR), because it ‘does not meet the minimum requirements for local programming’. This is not correct.

CCR, which uses the on-air identifier 2HOT FM, holds a temporary community broadcasting licence to provide a service to Cobar, New South Wales, for the period 22 January 2008 to 21 July 2008.

On 4 June 2008, ACMA called for applications in the Cobar Age for temporary use of the 102.9 MHz frequency in the Cobar RA2 licence area from 22 July 2008 onwards. ACMA then wrote to CCR on 10 June 2008 to invite the licensee to submit an application for a further temporary community broadcasting licence.

CCR informed ACMA in a telephone call on 14 July 2008 that it did not intend to apply for a further temporary community broadcasting licence.

As CCR has declined to apply for another temporary community broadcasting licence and no other applications have been received, use of the frequency will lapse after the 2HOT temporary community broadcasting licence expires on 21 July 2008.

2HOT has been operating on a temporary community broadcasting licence to serve the general geographic area of Cobar after ACMA decided not to renew CCR’s long-term licence on 20 December 2007, which expired on 21 January 2008.

In deciding not to renew 2HOT’s long-term licence, ACMA found that the licensee had not adequately identified the needs of the community and that its service did not adequately meet the needs of the Cobar licence area.

The licensee’s management capacity and ability to comply with licence conditions also concerned ACMA. Encouraging members of the community to participate in the operation of the service and providing sound corporate governance are essential requirements for community broadcasters. The licensee’s inability to meet legislative requirements contributed to ACMA deciding to not renew the long term licence.

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


Cobar Community Radio Inc. (2HOT)
On 20 December 2007, ACMA decided not to renew the long-term community radio broadcasting licence held by Cobar Community Radio Inc. (2HOT), which expired on 21 January 2008.

ACMA found that the licensee had not adequately identified the needs of the community and that the service did not adequately meet the needs of the Cobar licence area. ACMA’s media release announcing the non-renewal of the 2HOT long-term community broadcasting licence is available.

Consequently, ACMA made available the 102.9 MHz frequency for temporary community broadcasting purposes. It issued a six-month temporary community broadcasting licence to CCR with effect from 22 January 2008.

CCR has declined to apply for another temporary community broadcasting licence.

Community broadcasting licences
As at 30 June 2008, there were:

353 long-term community radio broadcasting licences, of which 78 were remote Indigenous broadcasting services (RIBS)
52 temporary community broadcasting licences
18 community radio licences renewed with remedial actions, 1 where additional conditions were imposed and 17 with agreed measures
11 licences not renewed, of which 6 were RIBS services that had not provided licence renewal applications and whose licences had therefore lapsed.
Renewal process for long-term community broadcasting licences
ACMA reminds licensees to lodge their long-term community radio licence renewal form one year before their licence is due to expire.

When a renewal application is received, ACMA conducts an assessment and investigation of the licence. This may take up to 12 months. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act) was amended in 2002 so that, in deciding whether to renew a licence, ACMA can take into account the same matters that it took into account when allocating the licence.

During the period of assessment and investigation, a licensee may be asked to provide an explanation of its answers. If insufficient information has been provided, ACMA may also ask the licensee for additional material. The assessment and investigation includes a review of the licensee’s record of compliance with the Act, licence conditions and codes of practice.

Community broadcasting services
Community broadcasting services are relevantly defined as being broadcasting services that:

are provided for community purposes; and
are not operated for profit or as part of a profit-making enterprise; and
provide programs that are able to be received by commonly available equipment and are made available free to the general public.
Community radio broadcasting services are intended to serve the needs and interests of particular communities. Licensees are required to encourage members of the community they have been licensed to serve to participate in the operation and the programming of the service.

What is a temporary community broadcasting licence?
A temporary community broadcasting licence (TCBL) authorises aspirant community radio broadcasters to provide temporary broadcasting services. TCBLs may be allocated for a period of up to 12 months. A TCBL cannot be renewed. However, a licensee providing a service under a TCBL may apply for a new TCBL before its existing TCBL expires.

TCBLs help to foster the development of community broadcasting by giving groups interested in applying for a long-term community radio licence the opportunity to develop the range of operational, programming and other skills necessary to successfully operate a community broadcasting service.

TCBLs help groups build community support for their service by allowing them to identify the needs of the community they propose to serve, and providing programming that caters to those needs, and encouraging the participation of the community in the service.

Who may apply for a TCBL?
An applicant for a TCBL must be a company that:

is formed in Australia or an external Territory; and
represents a community interest.
A 'company' includes an incorporated association.

An applicant for a TCBL must be a not-for-profit, locally based, representative organisation. It should have clearly defined purposes and transparent, non-discriminatory membership rules.

Allocation of TCBLs
In deciding whether to allocate a TCBL, ACMA is not to have regard to matters it considers when allocating a long-term community broadcasting licence. These include:

the extent that the proposed service would meet the needs of the community in an area;
the nature and diversity of the interests of that community;
the nature and diversity of other broadcasting services in that area; and
the capacity of the applicant to provide the service.
ACMA may have regard to:

the undesirability of one person being in a position to exercise control of more than one community broadcasting licence that is a broadcasting services bands licence in the same licence area; and
the undesirability of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory or a political party being in a position to exercise control of a TCBL.

ACMA may decide not to allocate a TCBL if the applicant previously held a TCBL but did not provide a broadcasting service under that TCBL.

ACMA must not allocate a TCBL if it has decided that the applicant is an ‘unsuitable’ applicant in the terms set out in the Act.

Licence periods
ACMA will allocate TCBLs for periods of up to 12 months.

ACMA may receive valid applications for TCBLs to broadcast programs on spectrum that is already occupied by one or more temporary broadcasters. In this situation, ACMA will align the licence periods for all services by determining the licence period for new temporary broadcasting services to start on the day after the end of the licence period for existing broadcasting services using the same spectrum.

Timing conditions
Timing conditions specify the times in which the licence allows a temporary community broadcasting service to be provided.

In determining the timing conditions and the licence period of a TCBL, ACMA is to have regard to:

any other applications for TCBLs in the licence area of the proposed licence; and
any other TCBLs in the licence area of the proposed licence; and
such other matters as ACMA thinks fit.
Sharing spectrum
When there is only one applicant for a TCBL, ACMA will determine timing conditions to allow full-time broadcasting (that is, 24 hours, seven days a week).

When more than one TCBL is allocated to broadcast on the same spectrum in an area, timing conditions will determine when each licensee may broadcast its service. When licensees must share spectrum, ACMA will set timing conditions in accordance with times agreed to by the applicants. If the applicants cannot agree on how time is to be shared, ACMA will make the decision. ACMA has prepared guidelines for the sharing of spectrum in these circumstances. The guidelines are available on ACMA’s website.