The Australian Communications and Media Authority today announced its latest community broadcasting initiative to develop new guidelines for community broadcasters to better help them comply with their licence conditions.

This initiative closely follows ACMA’s release of the Community Broadcasting Sponsorship Guidelines 2008 in June. The favourable response to the sponsorship guidelines suggests that guidelines are an appropriate way in this section of the broadcasting industry of clarifying the necessary level of performance to meet compliance with licence obligations.

‘ACMA has extensively reviewed community broadcasting investigations for the past five years and several related issues, indeed a trend, emerged as a principal concern for complainants’, said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. ‘The areas of concern included community participation, governance issues and licensees failing to meet the needs of their community.’

‘Additional guidelines should also enable ACMA to further implement recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee report of June 2007, Tuning in to community broadcasting, particularly those relating to governance arrangements,’ Mr Chapman said.

The House of Representatives report included recommendations that the Australian Government, in conjunction with the sector’s peak bodies, develop a guiding template for the structure of boards and committees and that ACMA improve transparency in relation to decision-making about community broadcasting services.

Following further analysis of available data, ACMA will consult with relevant industry groups on the development of the draft guidelines and make them available for industry comment later this year.