The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Bundaberg Burnett Community Broadcasting Association Inc, the licensee of Bundaberg temporary community broadcasting service 96.3fm, breached the licence condition to encourage community participation.

In addition to the complaint that the licensee does not encourage participation, ACMA received other complaints including the licensee’s failure to keep a record of programs broadcast, broadcasting advertisements and not continuing to represent the community interest. ACMA found the licensee only breached the condition to encourage participation.

This licence condition requires licensees to encourage members of its community to participate in the operations and programming of the service. This recognises that involving the community in the selection of programs promotes community access and diversity of programming, particularly material of local significance.

One of the principal ways in which community broadcasting licensees can encourage members of the community to participate in the operations of the service is through membership. Another important way in which community broadcasting licensees can encourage members of the community to participate in the service is through the provision of programs. A community broadcasting service is generally one that provides programming not only for its community but by its community.

This is the first time that the licensee has breached a licence condition since the initial allocation of a temporary community broadcasting licence in December 2002.

In these circumstances, ACMA does not propose to take any formal enforcement action. However, ACMA will continue to monitor the licensee’s compliance with its licence conditions.

A copy of Investigation Report No. 1973 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.